Report by Center on the Family, DHS addresses homeless services access

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Sarah Yuan, (808) 741-8138
Associate Specialist, CTAHR, Center on the Family
Frederika Bain, (808) 956-3092
Writer/editor, CTAHR, OCS
Posted: Nov 12, 2013

Homeless Service Utilization Report: Hawaii 2013 cover
Homeless Service Utilization Report: Hawaii 2013 cover

The Center on the Family at UH-Mānoa and the Homeless Programs Office of the Hawai‘i State Department of Human Services have released the Homeless Service Utilization Report: Hawai‘i 2013. Authored by Dr. Sarah Yuan, Ivette Rodriguez Stern and Hong Vo, the report provides the most current data on individuals and households who accessed homeless services and the state’s overall service utilization in the 2013 fiscal year, based on agency-entered data in the Homeless Management and Information System (HMIS).

The report includes information for both the Shelter Stipend Program (i.e., emergency and transitional shelter services) and the Outreach Program (i.e., services to those living outside, in a car or park or on a beach). It provides a demographic profile based on an unduplicated count of shelter and outreach program clients, a seven-year trend of homeless service utilization, and an analysis of outcomes of the Shelter Program.

The total number of homeless clients served by the Shelter and Outreach Programs has dropped for the third consecutive year. There have been some improvements in shortening the length of stay in shelter programs, and in moving more clients into permanent housing more quickly. While more progress needs to be seen in helping those who were successfully housed to remain in permanent housing, data show that the large majority of clients exited the homeless service programs by the third year and did not return. Some highlights of the report:

  • From July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, the Shelter and Outreach Programs served a total of 13,639 individuals statewide. The total number of clients served by these programs dropped for the third consecutive year, and by 2.4% since 2012.
    • The Outreach Program served 7,415 clients, representing a 5.0% decrease from last year.
    • The Shelter Program served 8,699 clients (a 2.2% increase).
  • Forty-two percent of those who received services were “new clients” (i.e., individuals who received services but had no prior intake recorded in the system, dating back to July 1, 2006).

  • The average length of stay has shortened for certain program and household types compared to last year. For single individuals served by the transitional shelter program, the average length of stay was reduced by 21 days to 224 days in FY 2013. For families served by the emergency shelter program, the average stay was 90 days, 6 days shorter than 2012.

  • Compared to 2012, more clients had obtained permanent housing in the community.  The largest improvement was found among families in the emergency shelter program, with 31% of exiting families obtaining permanent housing compared to 23% last year. The second largest increase was among families exiting the transitional shelter program; 70% obtained permanent housing in FY 2013, versus 64% last year.

  • Of those exiting shelter services to permanent housing in FY 2013, nearly equal shares of singles and families (48% and 49%, respectively) who utilized emergency shelter services exited in less than 60 days. A smaller share of singles (18%) and families (7%) in transitional shelters exited in this time frame. The rates of 60-day permanent housing exits improved across all household and program types compared to last year.

  • About one-third of households exiting the emergency shelter program had cash income, with a median of $734 per month for those on O‘ahu and $791 for those in the other counties combined. About half of those exiting the transitional shelter program reported cash income, with a median of $1,036 for O‘ahu and $960 for other counties. However, even those who exited with higher incomes (the top 20%) remained around the poverty line, slightly under or slightly above, even when unearned income from private and public programs was included.

  • Among those who entered the Shelter Program in FY 2010, two-thirds of the emergency shelter cohort and over half of the transitional shelter cohort exited homeless programs by the second year (FY 2011) and have not returned since. By the third year, 83% of the emergency shelter cohort and 76% of the transitional shelter cohort exited and have not returned to a homeless service program since.

“We developed the report to provide easy access to important statistics on the homeless, especially for those who need the data to improve policies, programs, and services for the homeless,” says Dr. Sarah Yuan, the lead author of the 2013 report. Adds Lori Tsuhako, administrator of the Homeless Programs Office at the Department of Human Services, which collaborated with the Center on the Family on the report, “The use of the HMIS data will help us to make better decisions and take appropriate actions to reduce homelessness in Hawai‘i. Despite the gains we’ve made in the past few years, there is a continuing need to move homeless people into permanent housing.”

Dr. Yuan will be presenting the report at the 2013 Statewide Homeless Awareness Conference today at the Pacific Beach Hotel on O'ahu.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Hawai‘i KIDS COUNT provided the funding that made the report possible. Copies of the report are available at the UH-Mānoa Center on the Family, located at 2515 Campus Road, Miller Hall 103. The report is also available on the Center on the Family Web site at

Contact the UH-Mānoa Center on the Family at (808) 956-4132 or via email at, or see the Web site at The Center on the Family is a unit within the UH-Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

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