Lieutenant Governor-Elect Plans Homelessness Strategy

Nov 29, 2018

Lt. Govenor-elect Josh Green
Credit Sherry Bracken

After fourteen years in the State Legislature, Dr. Josh Green is going to be sworn in as Lieutenant Governor next Monday. Although many consider the Lieutenant Governor’s job to be minimal — change of name, IDs and marriage licenses and such — Green has big plans.

Dr. Josh Green says being a physician is inherent to who he is, and he plans to use the skills he’s developed as a doctor in his new role as Lieutenant Governor.

“It’s something I wanted, and I’m excited about, to take on big challenges. Statewide, there are areas where I have a lot of expertise — like homelessness, like the opioid crisis, like the physician shortage.”

Green says he and Governor David Ige have discussed priorities. One of the first is homelessness. On O’ahu, Queen’s Medical Center has been spending more than $18 million dollars per year on homeless patients, some of whom use the Emergency Room as their primary care provider. Green’s model includes hygiene, housing, health care, and post hospital care.

“That’s gonna be a signature focus of mine, creating this new model to deal with chronic homelessness. We’ve started a satellite clinic in Chinatown, we’re seeing dozens of people every week, decreasing the burden on Queens, decreasing the cost to taxpayers. We’re saving well over $100,000 a week, and we’re gonna be doubling that as we increase our capacity. I hope to do about six of those statewide. Over $300 million dollars can be saved per year, because we don’t have that revolving door.”  

Green says the City and County have helped by providing a physical facility, and he plans to meet with all county mayors to see how the model can work for each county, with government and the private sector participating.

“That blends in to opioid addiction, which often comes hand in hand with homelessness and mental illness and access to mental health care. We have a shortage of psychologists, psychiatrists, facilities. Hopefully I can make it clear how big a deal this is for us.”

Josh Green, an emergency room physician, is co-founder of Hawai'i Homeless Healthcare Hui which is spearheading the Homeless H4 Project.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Green is working with some retired Governors from mainland states to help craft solutions to homelessness.

He also plans to continue working one weekend a month as an emergency room physician at Kohala Hospital. He feels that continued direct community involvement will help make him a better lieutenant governor.