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Social Work


Kelly Chermack


According to a recent national estimate of homelessness in the United States, between 2016 and 2017, the number of people experiencing homelessness increased by 0.7 %. This study was focused on the issue of unsheltered homelessness in the context of Oahu, Hawaii. There is a gap within the available scholarly literature that directly addresses the unsheltered homeless populations and why it is that they are unsheltered rather than living in a shelter or utilizing other transitional services. Using the generic qualitative approach and a purposive sampling method, 12 service provider professionals who work directly with the unsheltered homeless on the island of Oahu were interviewed regarding their perspectives concerning why the unsheltered homeless populations remain unsheltered and the strengths, weaknesses, and effectiveness of the intervention systems available to assist them. Data analysis for this research consisted of the identification and subsequent exploration of patterns and themes rendered from the interview processes navigated. Findings from this study suggest that unsheltered homelessness on Oahu consists largely of individuals with mental illness, and/or substance abuse problems. Multiple service providers stated that there are adequate services available to serve the unsheltered homeless, but some report that these services are often underfunded and understaffed. Service providers from a variety of separate agencies expressed a desire for a better-informed public and political leadership concerning what the issues of the homeless are. There is a shared belief among many service providers that there is a need to advocate for more long-term solutions to the growing problems of homelessness.

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