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Questions of Homeless Services….

The Emergency Shelter Program at KHAKO is a 90-day housing focused/housing first program. KHAKO does not “kick” anyone out of the shelter. If anyone is asked to exit before they have found permanent housing it would be due to excessive non-participation in the program, violence, or threats of violence.

On Friday, I read an opinion letter in the “Letters” section of the Maui News. A person from the community spoke “on behalf of the folks” at the shelter and expressed disappointment with Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Inc. (KHAKO) as she received information from one of the shelter participants, a single mom with two children, that she was “told to leave”, to exit the shelter.

I hope to shed some light onto the KHAKO shelter practices and expectations. Being housing focused is by design and as recommended by the State of Hawaii Homeless Programs Office. In 2018, there was a major paradigm shift for homeless service providers that took place throughout the state of Hawaii to lower entry requirements to shelters and to create greater efficiencies and higher quality services to the homeless/unsheltered with the ultimate goal of housing.

This shift was the recognition that nationally, the Housing First model of homeless service requirements was a better practice than what had been in place (long lengths of stay in homeless emergency and transitional shelters, high barriers to entry, and little focus on obtaining housing, etc.). There were also copiousness amounts of empty beds in homeless shelters and consequently, a concerted effort was made by the State of Hawaii legislators, the SOH Homeless Programs Office and the Governors Coordinator on Homelessness to seek solutions to this situation. Rightly so, they felt that as long as there are people who are unsheltered in the community (on the streets) there should not be empty beds in homeless shelters. Many changes were made for homeless service providers to create practices and outcome measures that ensured the utmost responsible stewardship of funds (tax payer monies) and use for the intended main purpose of housing the homeless as opposed to the older model of managing the homeless.

One of those expected outcome measures is to place at least 50% of families and individuals into permanent housing within 90 days of entry into shelter. It sounds daunting but is a good thing! The sooner a family can get into permanent housing the better it is for them in all sorts of ways. With a move into permanent housing there is a reduction in homelessness in our community, a sense of pride and accomplishment for the formerly homeless family or individual, it’s a place of safety and continued healing from the trauma of being unsheltered, it promotes better physical and mental health, creates stability and an increasing one’s sense of dignity for a better quality of life. As an accountability measure, if a state funded homeless service provider does not meet this outcome measure, the funding would have a monetary reduction penalty. This is understandable as we strive to be exceptional stewards of the funding that is granted. In the last year, KHAKO assisted 277 individuals obtain permanent housing, in spite of the COVID pandemic.

Participants are made aware of and enter into the program with the agreement that the program is short term and laser-focused on obtaining housing. The program is assertive with high expectations and the participants agree to take on the responsibility to improve area’s in their life that will help them quickly obtain and retain housing. Most of the participants work hard and take the program and their responsibilities seriously and make the necessary life adjustments (increase income, pay off debts and fines, get childcare, etc.) to move into permanent housing. While the program has a 90-day length of stay guideline, there is an understanding and allowance for some families and individuals that may need a little extra time (large families, difficulty finding ADA compliant homes, etc.). Even though we strive to exits in 90 days, the average length of stay for participants in the KHAKO shelters is 120 days. This is fantastic and quite an accomplishment on the part of our participants. They are “working” the program requirements and become successful in moving into permanent housing. We applaud and give them the credit.

To speak to the statement from the Letter post that “folks have been told to leave”: there is always an exit date for participants as the shelter is not permanent, long-term housing. Recently a reminder notice was sent out to shelter participants who have been in the shelter for longer than 90 days to plan a move out date. We use assertive case management and hold communication and participation in high regard with an expectation of accountability. Reminding folks that they have gone past the 90-day mark is a method to keep interactive communication. Participants have responsibilities that they have agreed upon and as long as they make efforts in the program, the staff will walk alongside them to get housing. In other words, they have to want it and keep their “eyes of the prize”.

Serving the community members who are unsheltered is challenging but rewarding work. The work is challenging as there are multiple aspects that accompany anyone who has become houseless. Any one or a mix of issues such as trauma, substance use, mental or physical disabilities, domestic violence, poverty, and health issues are in place and effect a participant’s life. Providers are in “the work” because we care, have compassion, and want to help those in need.

Lately it seems as if homeless service providers are under attack. There is much criticism and negative feedback with little information to back it up. We are not the problem, we are not the cause of homelessness, however, we are doing our best, with limited resources (funding and staffing) to break the cycle of homelessness. Please try to walk in our shoes or call with questions before making judgements.

We are extremely grateful for the donation the agency received from Jeff Bezos. We are extremely grateful for all of our beloved community members near or far who offer donations to help our shelters stay in operation to benefit our participants. It is very expensive to operate these large facilities and programs and it would be a tragedy to lose much needed donations based on misinformation or miscommunication.

Additionally, as the Executive Director of Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Inc., I am committed to operating shelters that are ethical, fair, equitable, safe, compliant, and housing focused. I make myself available to the community to answer questions or concerns of homeless services or our agency practices.

Monique Ibarra

Executive Director

(808) 446-8133
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You have a very difficult job with a very difficult population. You have done amazing things and will continue to do so. With God everything is possible

I think it's great you have accountability for those who choose to stay there temporarily. They are aware of this before they accept the assistance. There will always be critics of whatever you do. I had seen the letter about a single mom with child being kicked out. My first thought was that I didn't think there was enough information about the situation and it is confidential to the shelter. I try to never judge negatively. I don't have all the facts. It's not my place to judge. I appreciate the fine job you all do to help the homeless get back on their feet and make their time there short and productive.

Thank you for taking the time to explain the program to the community, near and far. You and your staff are doing good work, the residents are doing good work. There will always be critics. I hope some accept your invitation to walk in your shoes or call with questions. If they do, I predict they will become champions of your work.

Thank you for the transparency keep up the great work! ♥️


Mahalo KHAKO for all you do. We will get through this together. 🙏🙏🙏

Thank you Monique, for the clear description of KHAKO services. Helen Hart, member BOD

Mahalo KHAKO for everything you all do for our community.

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3 weeks ago
Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers

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Ka Hale A Ke Ola

Homeless Resource Center

COVID-19 Precaution Measures

The health, safety, and welfare of those individuals and families utilizing services at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Inc. is of the utmost importance to ensure the safety and well being of all.  The COVID-19 virus has the potential to adversely affect the community and KHAKO is taking this threat very seriously.  At our shelters, we are putting great emphasis of processes and procedures that support the highest standard possible to ensure cleanliness to mitigate the possibility of infectious disease outbreak.

At Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Inc. we are committed to doing what’s right and best to protect our guests, tenants, staff, and vendors, and to do our part to prevent the transmission of the Corona Virus (COVID-19). Please visit our Precaution Measures page for details on procedures and policies.

“The House of Life”

Ka Hale A Ke Ola is a comprehensive resource center that provides emergency and transitional shelter, adult education and training, counseling, a primary care medical clinic and facilities for child care. KHAKO is dedicated to serving the needs of the homeless and hungry on Maui by providing emergency food and housing, voicing their concerns, and empowering participants to take responsibility for their own lives, and to call on the community to assist in these actions.


Our Impact


People Sheltered in 2020


Meals Served in 2020


Individuals Housed in 2020