Honolulu’s iconic Aloha Tower will turn purple this week as two important homelessness-related events take place.
The tower will be lit up on Wednesday and Thursday to observe Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, which is typically held the week before Thanksgiving and is meant to raise awareness about the pressing issues of hunger and homelessness, as well as poverty. In Hawai‘i, there are an estimated 6,458 homeless individuals statewide on any given night, including more than half who are unsheltered and sleeping on the sidewalks, beaches, in their vehicles, or in other areas unsuitable for human habitation.
Wednesday and Thursday are also the dates of the statewide 2020 Homeless Awareness Virtual Conference, Moving Forward Together: Our Resilient Community. The conference is sponsored jointly by the State of Hawai‘i; City & County of Honolulu; County of Hawai‘i; County of Kaua‘i; County of Maui; and Hawai‘i’s two Continua of Care: Partners in Care and Bridging the Gap.
“This week is a time to recognize the hard work of all who work so hard to end homelessness throughout the year,” said Scott Morishige, Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness. “Despite the adversity of the pandemic, our homelessness system has transitioned nearly 3,400 individuals into permanent housing between March and September. Our community is resilient and has pulled together to keep a focus on permanent housing and helping the most vulnerable among us.”
“2020 has been a difficult year for everyone in Hawai‘i, the United States, and around the world,” said Laura Thielen, executive director of Partners in Care. “As the year comes to a close and we reflect on the issue of homelessness and hunger, let us remember how we have come together in so many ways during this pandemic, and acknowledge that we do have the ability to overcome some of the issues that have plagued our community for years.
“Despite the pandemic, we have gotten food to our neighbors on our beaches and on our streets, we have housed those who have been homeless for years, and we have shown compassion to our community. We are stronger than we realize and together we can make a better community for all. Let’s continue the amazing things that we have started during 2020 and carry them into the new year.”
“Despite a worldwide pandemic, we still saw the Aloha Spirit alive and well in Hawai‘i, where people didn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand to those in need,” said Brandee Menino, chief executive officer of HOPE Services Hawai‘i and chair of Bridging the Gap. “Our island community has been incredibly resilient this year, and I’m pleased that we continue to look out for each other. During this week and through the holidays, let us all continue to keep our most vulnerable residents in mind.”
To find out more about Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, please visit https://homelessness.hawaii.gov/main/homelessness-awareness-week/.
To find out more about the 2020 Homeless Awareness Virtual Conference, visit https://honolulu.gov/housing/homelessness/svch/. The conference is free, and will feature keynote speeches from Gov. David Ige, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, and CEO Nan Roman from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.