Cultural competency in serving the homeless in Hawai‘i at the John A. Burns School of Medicine

Homelessness in Hawai‘i has gained a tremendous amount of attention over the past year. National and international newspapers have been highlighting Hawai‘i's issue of homelessness, as the state's rapidly growing homeless population has reached a five-year high of 7,620 individuals (Figure 1),1 leaving Hawai‘i with the unfortunate distinction of having the highest homeless rate per capita in the nation (487 homeless/100,000 people).2 In October 2015, the City and County of Honolulu conducted its largest homeless sweeps on the streets of Kaka‘ako neighboring the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). These sweeps displaced over 200 homeless individuals, and with limited shelter space available many were left with no place to go. The fact that the number of unsheltered homeless individuals (3,843) is greater than the number of sheltered homeless individuals (3,777) demonstrates the need for more social services and better housing policies.1 In response, politicians have proposed ideas to allocate additional resources for the homeless, such as providing temporary housing communities on Sand Island and in Kaka‘ako.

Publication Date: 
Satoru Izutsu
Journal Name: 
Hawai'i Journal of Medicine & Public Health