Gov. Lingle earns praise for work with homeless
A national group cites her programs to help the needy rebound
Gov. Linda Lingle and leaders from two other states were honored yesterday by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness for their efforts with the homeless.
Lingle, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey were presented with the inaugural "A Home for Every American Award" via teleconference from Denver, where the council was holding a national conference.
Council Executive Director Philip Mangano praised the work and vision of the three leaders in their respective states. All three are Republicans.
Fletcher was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on misdemeanor charges accusing him of illegally rewarding political supporters with state jobs since taking office two years ago.
"Gov. Lingle has challenged the business community, the tourism authority, localities and other stakeholders to join her in a partnership to end another scourge: homelessness in Hawaii," Mangano said from Denver.
He said Lingle has aggressively worked to increase affordable housing, developed a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness and created plans to reduce the recidivism rate among prisoners and to integrate them back into society.
Lingle did this "to ensure that her state is tolerant of homeless people but intolerant of homelessness," he said.
The governor said the reason homelessness is such a difficult problem to deal with is because it is about helping one person at a time and guiding them out of homelessness.
"There is no massive solution," she said. "We have to recognize that it's about individual mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and children who need help from the rest of the community."
Lingle said state governments need to enlist the assistance of federal and city agencies as well as the private-sector nonprofit groups, such as faith-based organizations.
"I'm confident we can make great strides in making certain every American has a home," she said. "I will use this award to continue our outreach all across the state."
There are thousands of homeless people in Hawaii, where home prices and rents are among the highest in the nation.
In 2003, 14,000 homeless people received assistance from the programs supported by the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii.
"In some states, such as my own, the real estate values are so high that the big challenge for us is not just the programs we come forward with, but at the end of those programs, making certain there are affordable housing units for all people," Lingle said. "We're committed to this effort."
The state created an emergency homeless shelter on May 1 in a large warehouse in Kakaako to accommodate roughly 200 homeless who were displaced when the city began closing nearby Ala Moana Beach Park at night.