Do my eyes deceive me on Waikiki homeless?

I made a few trips to Waikiki last week and found the homeless far less visible than my last visit in checks from the Elks Club end of Kapiolani Park through Ala Moana Park.

I’ve also noticed fewer homeless in once-popular areas in Kakaako.

I’ll take it as a sign that Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s homelessness initiative is making progress, although there’s cause for some wariness from reports that the Waikiki homeless are moving into abandoned properties.

The administration reported getting more than 400 people statewide off of the streets and into shelters or transitional and permanent housing in the initial 90 days of its initiative, which is a significant start in so short a time.

There’s been some suspicion that it’s mainly an attempt to clean up Waikiki and the city core for the APEC conference, but the governor and his homelessness coordinator Marc Alexander have earned credit for more commitment than that just from their willingness to set goals and accept accountability for the results.

They’ve developed some sound strategies, such as fixing public housing units that are vacant because of disrepair, identifying sub-groups of homeless and their special needs and getting public and private agencies that work with the homeless on the same page and directed toward best practices.

It’s encouraging that the liberal administration is willing to adopt tough love approaches when appropriate, such as discouraging charitable groups from feeding the homeless on the beaches and instead directing them to shelters where they can get more help than just food.

One of the first and most valuable management lessons I learned is that you never let anybody get comfortable in a bad situation that’s detrimental to both the individual and the larger community.

It’s fair to ask what society is doing to help our fellow citizens who are homeless, but it’s also fair to ask what the homeless who are capable of helping themselves are doing about it.

Those who shun available shelter space and claim the right to freely live on prime beachfront park lands and other public property because they don’t like the rules the rest of us have to follow deserve little slack.

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9 Comments on “Do my eyes deceive me on Waikiki homeless?”

  1. Richard Gozinya Says:

    Seems to me there’s been a migration of homeless further mauka. try check Pawaa Iha park – way more now. Try check around and about Keeaumoku and the side streets – way more. Sam with other neighborhoods especially near the downtown area. It’s hard to make absolute measurements with only the Mark I Eyeball but from my admittedly limited perspective, the Gov has succeeded chasing the Feral Citizens from APEC-visible venues back into the neighborhoods at the expense of the residents. I’ll be interested to hear what others are seeing.

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    As someone who has been involved with these issues for more than a decade now, I cann attest that there is a significant increase in the number of homeless AND at-risk folks along the Windward Coast & the North Shore.

    Being poor & homeless is currently not a crime, but why not support setting up buildings similar to prisons to house these people who offend middle class citizens by living in the parks and on the streets.

    There are more than 10,000 individuals and families waiting for decent affordable public housing, but there are fewer than 200 units not filled. Lose a job or get Medicaid cut back and all of a sudden paying rent is not practical.

    The complexity of the problem – the lack of affordable workforce housing, jobs that pay more than minimum wages, access to training & basic education, and the unwillingnes to acknowledge that there is limited access to the services to help people who need support. Who is supposed to pay for all of this?

    State services as well as grants to NGOs have been severely cut back so that people who need help have nowhere to go except under the bushes or a freeway.

  3. Guido Sarducci Says:

    They’ll be back the day after APEC leaves.

  4. zzzzzing Says:

    More on the Windward side, that’s for sure. There’s a homeless camp on private land in Coconut Grove that has a lot of ‘bike people’ (read: drug runners), and I see more hanging out in K-town and at the beaches, too. Lots of these folks are chronics & alcoholics – no way to fix that unless they decide it’s time to get better. I speak from experience.

  5. WooWoo Says:

    CWD-

    Are there really a lot of people out there who truly want job training, are willing to put in the commitment, and can’t get it? A friend works in financial aid at one of the community colleges. She reports that there is lots of federal money available… Many apply, register, and stop attending classes in a matter of weeks.

  6. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    WooWoo:

    The vast majority of homeless and at-risk individuals need basic literacy skills support. Many of them cannot even read kid’s books to their children.

    As for the next level of training/education, many of the people who are interested in improving their financial status are simply not able to find both the time and the location to study. Some live way out in the country and have no way to get to one of the community colleges. Others live in shelters where the lights are turned off no later than 10 pm – or they live in the bushes or sleep in doorways where there is little in the way of light.

    Finally, bear in mind that there are many sub-groups of homeless folks. Some have serious mental stability issues while others are too sick to deal with anything more important than getting something to eat or a bottle of beer or a joint. Others are trying to deal with complex issues such as child care or finding protection against attacks or even locating a shower or toilet.

    The educational programs you describe are important, but basic survival needs come first. Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs to understand why hungry, cold & dirty people are really not going to want to go to school.

  7. WooWoo Says:

    CWD-

    I don’t disagree with anything you say in your 2nd post. I was responding to parts of your 1st post, where you speak of affordable workforce housing and jobs that pay more than minimum wage and ask “who is supposed to pay for all of this?”

    I think that the ladder out of minimum wage work is there for most people who want it. I mean want it in terms of action, not words. Do you think a minimum wage McDonalds job sucks? Well, you can work hard and get a promotion. What? Don’t want to do that? Fine, your choice, but don’t blame McDonalds. Or “the system.”

    I think that we do have great programs in place to help people improve their earnings potential, and I don’t think we should cut those programs. There are many, many useless programs I would cut at UH Manoa before touching GED programs and community college offerings. (if you must get a degree in comparative American literature, get thee to the mainland. I want to spend my local tax dollars training nurses assistants, carpenters and mechanics.)

    Anyway, my point is that if someone is “stuck” in a minimum wage job, it is often self-inflicted to a large extent. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with working at McDs. If you’re happy, I’m happy. But if you’re upset about your job and you think it’s someone else’s fault, I disagree. There are plenty of great programs to help you improve.

  8. shaftalley Says:

    for the truly needy,please givegenerously to charity.

  9. cloudia Says:

    Got to give the Gov props on this one, though we will see how it all goes AFTER APEC. Worthy considerations well written again, David.


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