By Cathy Bussewitz, Associated Press
HONOLULU — David Willett lived in a tent and struggled with drug addiction before coming to Gregory House, a Honolulu shelter that has provided temporary housing for people with HIV and AIDS for more than a decade.
But the shelter is among many that face steep federal funding cuts this year, and Willett and other residents worry about its future.
“I would be dead if it wasn’t for Gregory House,” said Willett, 49. “We just desperately need this program.”
Shelter managers in Hawaii are scrambling to figure out how to keep a roof over the heads of hundreds of homeless people, and similar cuts are being made across the nation this month as the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shifts its grant money to programs that focus on permanent housing.
After hearing the news, Gregory House residents held hands in the kitchen — its walls decorated with the words “live,” “believe” and “laugh” — and shared stories about how living in the shelter helped them battle drug addictions and disease.
The transitional shelters and programs — many operating for more than a decade — applied for grants and were scored on factors including the community’s success at reducing homelessness. Local communities across the nation decreased homelessness by 11% since 2010, according to HUD. But Hawaii — with the highest rate of homelessness in the nation — bucked the trend, with more people falling into homelessness every year since 2011.
Each local area…