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Governor Enacts Bill on Homelessness Initiative and Announces New Homelessness Coordinator

Press Release

Location: Honolulu, HI

Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed legislation that establishes the Hawai'i Interagency Council on Homelessness (HICH) under the Department of Human Services (DHS). This act formalizes the HICH as it begins to implement the State Strategic Plan to End and Prevent Homelessness. The Governor also introduced Colin C. Kippen as his new Coordinator on Homelessness.

"Colin brings a strong commitment to seeing our mission through. He has come home to Hawai'i after serving the country's native communities and brings a fresh perspective to the work that we've accomplished so far," said Governor Abercrombie. "Colin is dedicated and ready to lead the coordination in our fight against homelessness. As a Native Hawaiian who has dealt with various native challenges, Colin also brings a cultural sensitivity to the growing rate of Native Hawaiians within our homeless population."

Mr. Kippen will carry out the HICH Plan that was developed over the last five months with stakeholder and community input.

"The Governor has taken great steps toward tackling Hawai'i's homelessness challenges and I will continue in the direction that he has set in place," said Mr. Kippen. "There are many providers who have day-to-day interaction with our homeless community and I look forward to learning as much as I can from them as we work together to initiate the State Plan."

Mr. Kippen, 62, served as the National Indian Education Association executive director in Washington, D.C. and was previously the executive director of the Native Hawaiian Education Council. Mr. Kippen also worked as the senior counsel to the chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and previously at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as a deputy administrator and land and natural resources officer. He was a chief judge for the Suquamish Indian Tribe, Port Madison Indian Reservation, from 1994 to 1997; he also practiced law in Washington State where he also served as an appellate tribal judge.

With a vast background in native issues, Mr. Kippen has participated in various community organizations such as Hawaiian Civic Clubs and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Review Committee; and is a former board member on the Native Hawaiian Bar Association and American Diabetes Association. Mr. Kippen earned a B.A. in political science at the University of Hawai'i; he holds a M.A. in urban and regional planning from the University of Iowa, where he also earned his J.D.

His official start date is June 25, 2012.

Department of Human Services Director Patricia McManaman stated, "We welcome Colin to our team as we incorporate the Hawai'i Interagency Council on Homelessness in our department with the goal of enhancing its ability to provide solutions for ending homelessness in Hawai'i."

Hawai'i Interagency Council on Homelessness
The Hawai'i Interagency Council on Homelessness (HICH) was established by executive order in July 2011. The 24-member council -- composed of state department directors, federal agency representatives, and community leaders -- were tasked with developing a unified plan on addressing homelessness. The creation of the Council was first announced in May 2011 by Governor Abercrombie and Marc Alexander, the previous Coordinator on Homelessness, as an important part of the state's 90-Day Plan on Homelessness.

The HICH established four Investigative Committees to research and craft proposals to address homelessness in the areas of housing, health, economic stability, and retooling the homeless response system. The proposals were then merged to create a single draft State Strategic Plan that was aligned with the 2010 federal homelessness plan, titled, Opening Doors -- Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.

Eight public meetings were held in March 2012 on Maui, Moloka'i, Hawai'i Island, Kaua'i and O'ahu to share the draft Strategic Plan and solicit community input. The draft Plan was also posted online with an option to provide comments for those unable to attend any of the meetings. The draft Plan was revised based on the public comments received and is now ready to be presented to the full HICH, which will meet next month. Once the HICH approves the draft Plan, it will be presented to the Governor for his final approval.

From January through April 2012, efforts by service providers and government agencies allowed for the following:

1,048 individuals were moved off the streets into shelters. 67 percent of these individuals were on O'ahu; 13 percent on Hawai'i Island; 5 percent on Kaua'i; and 15 percent in Maui County.
79 individuals transitioned to permanent housing. 48 percent of these individuals were on O'ahu; 29 percent on Hawai'i Island; 6 percent on Kaua'i; and 17 percent in Maui County.
Nonprofits received notices of grant awards totaling more than $1.6 million to perform a range of services for homeless individuals including rapid rehousing and case management support.

Senate Bill 2804 enhances HICH's ability to provide solutions to ending homelessness by ensuring continuity and accountability. The law goes into effect July 1, 2012.

Upon signing the measure into law, Governor Abercrombie stated, "I want to thank the Legislature and all of the providers who have supported the establishment of the HICH and our efforts to implement solutions for ending homelessness in Hawai'i."

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