Revisiting Hawai‘i’s Homeless Problem
Contemplate the realization of your goal. Can you clearly picture the resolution of the problem? Can you see yourself succeeding? If not, it’s a good idea to reassess your commitment to the goal. — The Tiny Buddha Blog
Perhaps Mayor Kirk Caldwell and I need to “reassess” how to handle O‘ahu’s homeless.
I’ve been a fan of hardand-fast eviction of public l and squatters. Caldwell likes the “compassionate” approach by way of laws against sitting or lying in certain zones. He’s spending $78,000 a year for homeless “sweep” crews and about $15,000 a week for storing - ings. Lawmakers were asked — unsuccessfully — for $2 million for special sheriff’s deputies to evict the homeless from state lands.
The City considers it great progress when a half-dozen homeless are put into housing. That only leaves 7,214 to go!
They’re back under the Nimitz overpass, back along Nimitz Highway, and now a huge homeless village in our Old Stadium Park.
As I photographed the latter last week, I wondered if the mayor and I shouldn’t surrender and make that hardlyany-grass, scantily used park an authorized tent city with assigned plots, a bathroom and a central outreach center. They would be individual tents — not those community ones the late Mayor Frank Fasi unsuccessfully tried in other community.
I mean, why keep doing a sweep that has the people drifting back the next day? Isn’t there a clear message?
Los Angeles t r i ed our system and cleaned 16,500 homeless encampments, removing more than 3,000 tons of trash. The cost so far is more than $14 million, with no appreciable lessening of the number of encampments on the sidewalks, in alleys and along waterway banks.
Here, we’ve increased the number of beds available in shelters, but shelter isn’t what all our homeless want. No booze or drugs allowed. Can’t hang out there during the day.
We’re t r ying Housing First, but that’s appropriate only for a drop in the over - ple. Some have mental prob- lems or addictions. Others are just weird.
And as fast as we help some, others become homeless because of mental, job or rent-price issues.
The last homeless report I read dismally said, “Since the - zation Report was issued in 2006, the need for homeless services in the state has continued to grow.”
That r e port , c overing “hidden” (in the bushes) and at- risk people, concluded that there were dispropor- tionately higher numbers of Caucasians, Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians, and mixed non-Hawaiian people. Figures were lower for Chinese, Japanese and Koreans. The at-risk group included a high number of people who had been in Ha
So why do Caldwell and I and many others keep beating our heads against the wall and denying that a tent city approach may be the most doable approach?
It’s that old “do the same thing and expect a different outcome” syndrome.
Despite homeless “sweeps,” encampments continue to persist while new ones like those pictured at Old Stadium Park emerge.