By Allyson Blair
Reporter for Hawaii News Now
Three hours a day, four days a week an old cottage in the heart of Waikiki is inundated with homeless youth desperate for some downtime.
There are more than 1,200 homeless minors living on Oahu, and scores visit the island’s only homeless youth drop-in center whenever it’s open.
At Youth Outreach, which has been around for 26 years, minors can drop in to do laundry, use a computer, even see a doctor.
But the dilapidated condition of the cottage was making it hard to keep up with demand. That is, until a team of local businesses stepped in.
Home Aid Hawaii, along with other businesses from all over the island, chipped in to complete a $50,000 renovation. Volunteers even went as far as to work odd hours so the kids wouldn’t be cut off from the safe haven.
Youth Outreach serves close to 500 children and young adults every year. Staff members say most who come here are victims of emotional, physical or sexual abuse and are on the street because it’s safer than being at home.
“Their stuff gets lost all the time. Confiscated. Thrown away,” said Alika Campbell, of Youth Outreach. So renovations more than tripled the number of lockers, giving kids a secure place to keep their things.
“We really encourage people lock up your important documents, your important belongings, birth certificates, social security cards,” Campbell said.
Much-needed upgrades were also made to the kitchen, computer lab and health clinic.
“The exam table here is one of the donations from this project,” said Kent Anderson, the program’s director of preventative health.
He says most patients here used to be between 14 and 22.
But as the city and state have stepped up homeless sweeps islandwide, the program has started to see younger children coming in. “We’ve been seeing a lot of kids (who are) 9,10,11, in addition to those in their middle and late teens,” Anderson said.
Minors can visit Youth Outreach without an appointment. The center is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 3 p.m to 6 p.m.
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