Jeff Bezos donates $7.5M to fight homelessness in Hawaii
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two Hawaii nonprofits have received a total of $7.5 million in grants from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s Day 1 Families Fund.
On Oahu, Family Promise of Hawaii received $2.5 million — the largest private grant the organization has ever received.
Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Maui’s largest homeless shelter provider, received a $5 million grant.
An estimated 1 in 30 young children in Hawaii experience homelessness annually, according to the latest federal data. And over 3,200 Hawaii public school students experienced homelessness last year, according to state data.
Ryan Catalani, executive director of Family Promise of Hawaii, explained that the grant would be used to create temporary housing for families in need and help with case management and other wrap around services.
The nonprofits have served thousands of families experiencing homelessness, helping them to quickly move back into permanent housing.
A mother of seven who benefited from Family Promise of Hawaii’s services expressed gratitude for the organization’s help and the impact they have had in her and her family’s life.
“Family Promise is not just a program, it’s a godsend and a blessing to families like mine,” she said, getting emotional at the podium.
She explained that after moving to Hawaii, she and her family could not afford the cost of living and were constantly moving between houses, staying with relatives and at one point her family needed to split because of housing.
But, with the nonprofit’s help, she said, “My family is together and we are doing very well.”
During the press conference, Gov.-Elect Josh Green also announced that Nani Medeiros the governor’s housing chief.
Green said this is a step forward in tackling these challenges and creating a cabinet that will address the issues of housing and homelessness across the state.
The governor-elect and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi both vowed to push through legislation to improve Hawaii’s housing crisis.
Both expressed the need to increase the inventory of homes and cracking down on illegal vacation rentals.
This story will be updated.
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