Hannemann-Lingle homeless tango gets tiresome

Continuing with homelessness, it was disappointing to see Mayor Mufi Hannemann and the Lingle administration  wasting precious energy needed to solve this problem with more bickering over who deserves credit and who deserves blame.

The mayor held a well-attended forum on homelessness this week, offending Lingle’s people who thought it was a campaign stunt aimed at obscuring what they see as a callous disregard for the homeless by Hannemann.

You can read the he said/she said here if you care to, but suffice it to say that both sides need to roll up their sleeves more before there’s any political boasting to be done about solving homelessness in Hawai’i.

Hannemann got off to a bad start  in 2006 when he cruelly and abruptly kicked 200 homeless out of Ala Moana Park with no place else to go to keep them from blighting a centennial bash he planned at Magic Island.

When many of them showed up at city hall to protest, wrongful arrests were made and the city ultimately had to pay $65,250 in settlements.

Once in damage-control mode, Hannemann ridiculously claimed that he booted the homeless from Ala Moana to force the state into action to help them.

To his credit, Hannemann learned from the mistake and in subsequent homeless evictions from Waianae Coast beaches, the city gave ample notice and did a better job of coordinating with social service agencies to help those displaced.

But his continuing claims that homelessness is the state’s problem when 80 percent of the state’s homeless are in his city is unproductive and an argument that few other U.S. mayors would try to get away with.

Lingle didn’t need any prodding from Hannemann’s Ala Moana fiasco to get busy on homelessness; she had already bought heavily into the Bush administration’s ambitious plan to end homelessness in a decade.

The governor built short-term shelters and longer-term housing for the homeless in Kakaako, Waianae and Kalaeloa, but ending homelessness proved more challenging than she expected and the effort seemed to run out of gas in the recession.

At this point, the governor, mayor and Legislature all seem to have the best of intentions for the homeless, but what’s frustrating is the constant political jousting and the potential progress that’s been lost because of their failure to work together.

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21 Comments on “Hannemann-Lingle homeless tango gets tiresome”

  1. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Frankly, no one wants to have the homeless in their backyard – whether it’s the dirty unshaven middle-aged man wandering around in circles battling his many demons OR the petite neatly-dressed local woman parked in front of District Court on Hotel Street with all her belongs stacked in boxes & shopping carts spread out around her OR two young local men sitting under a tree at Ala Moana Park drinking beer OR a young family from Micronesia trying to find work, get medical care, and keep their kids safe, clean & fed.

    As was pointed out over & over at Tuesday’s forum, the homeless we deal with are as varied as the rest of us are.

    Many organizations and government agencies have stepped up to provide services, but elected officials also have to deal with constituents who do not want to see public resources – other than the police – used. They have to address the anger and hostility expressed towards the homeless in comment boxes like this. And, by the way, elected officials include the several hundred NIMBYs who “serve” on one of O`ahu’s 33 Neighborhood Boards.

    What would YOU do, David, if you were put in charge.

  2. Bongo Says:

    Dave, It’s true that 80% of the homeless are in the city of Honolulu…Honolulu is 80% of the State! The harbor, airport, freeway and a ton of schools are also in Honolulu, but that doesn’t make them city responsibilities.

    Remember that the city budget is $4 billion and the state’s is $12 billion…and handle welfare, mental health, criminal justice and other social services. Why isn’t homeless their problem too?

  3. Michael Says:

    Homeless is due to lingle cannot save jobs.
    she thinks it cheaper to buy a new car than fix one.
    How many will say they can retire from their present jobs 30 years from now?

    hanneman wastes money by sending rubbish to the mainland and paying for storage of trash that could not be sent out.
    In return the Mainland sends us their homeless for better weather. Sounds like big payback.

  4. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    After reading the comments attached to today’s editorial in the Star Advertiser as well as here, it is clear that it is much easier and more fun to play the Blame Game than it is to do something about this insidious, invidious complex human issue.

    We who volunteer through our faith-based organizations distributing food, clothing & limited shelft options or provide social/medical/educational services via private-sector non-profits cannot actually solve the long-term problem of affordable, permanent, safe housing by ourselves because we do not have access to that kind of funding.

    Furthermore, many folks out there do not want their tax dollars spent on these kinds of capital projects just like they don’t want them built anywhere their own communities.

    Read the comments: Stick these people in the mountains, send them back to wherever they came from, throw the bums in jail, or even ship them over to Kaho`olawe. These are the messages that political leaders at both the county & state level hear all the time.

    It’s like the feral animal feeding argument. Stop doing something for these scumboogers and the problem will go away.

  5. Shaloha Says:

    It kills me to agree (in part) with Capitol -ist since I feel that the “homeless” are composed of different populations: vagrants, mentally ill, families etc.

    To address the issue, one needs to address the different components of this population:

    I disagree with Dave – we need to send vagrants back to their communities lest Hawaii becomes a haven for the transients from all over US.

    The mentally ill must be institutinalized – the idea that a mental patient needs to wallow in his own waste and beg by the side of the road is a Libertarian idea taken to it’s absurd end.

    In general I object even to the term Homeless – this term was invented by the Democrats to hide the diversity of the problem and use this issue as a cudgel against cruel Capitalist system, heartless Republicans etc.

    The latest statistics (and I do not accept the figure of 4K which was put together by the combination of the advocates and the Democrat government parasites that directly benefir form the social spending) indicate that we are spending about $10K per homeless!

    I would bet Dave my life that 80% of these funds go to the NGO salaries and perks and Democrat government workers. For $10K per person one can do wonders, but, and this is my main point, the purpose of these artificial public events, Dave’s posts and media frenzy is to gin up spending for the Democrat party members that dominate the NGO’s and work for the unions – nothing more and nothing less.

    When the issue is improperly framed, an Orwellian terms are used to describe it, all participants are Democrat party regulars etc, etc – the only conclusion is that we are witnessing a media campaign by the Democrats to increase government spending and direct it to it’s members.

  6. cloudia Says:

    same old same old…..sad…

    Big structural changes in society cause this,
    yet “leaders” make the same old ideological arguments
    about self-sufficiency. Wealth has been vacuumed into fewer and fewer pockets. Little is left at the bottom rungs. Fault of the powerless, obviously…

  7. cloudia Says:

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  8. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Whoops!!! shelft = shelter

    ……built anywhere NEAR their own communities.

  9. Michael Says:

    I am sure these homeless have relatives.
    Let those relatives be responsible.
    I am sure even homeless have parents.
    Let them be accountable.

  10. hipoli Says:

    Capitol-ist asked Dave a solid question: What would YOU do?

    Ive spent some time thinking about this – and Im not sure if this suggestion is realistic or not.

    I would figure out a way to mandate that each community – be it Hawaii Kai, Waianae, Ewa Beach, Kaimuki, Waimanalo,and Kailua – to come together as a community to house and take care of 50 homeless individuals (random number chosen for conversation purposes). This eliminates the NIMBY-factor because it distributes the problem relatively evenly and puts it in everyones backyards and in their faces, forcing understanding, tolerance, and responsibility. Each community has a neighborhood board – that can be the organizing and responsible body.

    Hows that, Capitol-ist? Go ahead, poke holes, everyone. I wont be offended. I might just be coloring outside the lines with this.

  11. David Shapiro Says:

    Hipoli, interesting idea. On the proposed safe zones for homeless camping, I suggested somewhere along the way that one be put in each council district.

  12. charles Says:

    hipoli, I’m afraid your proposal tries to strike an egalitarian approach to a challenge that doesn’t lend itself to such a solution.

    There are as many reasons why a person is homeless as there are homeless people. Simply divvying them up and sending them to disparate locations wouldn’t work.

    I would suspect the solution has to be multi-faceted as least as much as the problem. For example, many homeless work full-time jobs but clearly those jobs do not pay a living wage.

    Others need mental health services. Still others prefer to be on the street, believe it or not. And on and on.

    Me? I don’t know what is the end-all, be-all solution but I do believe the answer lies in at least two competing premises.

    First, advocating for public funding, programs and community acceptance for the homeless. Second, expecting a minimum standard of healthy living and socially acceptable behavior from the homeless.

    Let’s not criminalize and dehumanize the homeless but neither should we romanticize them.

  13. David Shapiro Says:

    That’s nicely said, Charles.

  14. Kolea Says:

    Ah, Hipoli,

    Just yesterday, I was thinking each House District should provide an area for the homeless. You say “Council District.” Clearly you have the superior idea!

    Last year, I attended a NHB meeting in a neighborhood I where i used to live. They were discussing a proposed expansion of a care home for the elderly and NIMBY concerns were becoming aroused. Maybe it is because my own folks have recently moved into a retirement center, but I was stunned to witness the elderly being spoken of as an undesirable element, fit for being exported to some OTHER neighborhood.

    Shucks, it makes sense to me, crazy fellow that I am, that it is ideal for old folks to remain close to their families, surviving friends, familiar surroundings and that each neighborhood would, ideally, provide a retirement center which is integrated into the community rather than send these old folks into exile.

    We have idealized the 1950s Cleaver family and each, try to recreate our “folie deux”, plus kids, as if we can REALLY find that “Haven in a Heartless World.” Even the gays and lesbians are buying in!

    Well, there are also Granma and Granpa, and the eccentric bachelor uncle who was always a little off. And there are the kids underfoot, needing childcare.

    “It Takes A Village” to raise our kids AND take care of our old folks humanely and provide jobs & shelter for the downtrodden and displaced.

    I understand this conflicts with the “dog eat dog” ethic which is prompting everyone to build up armored, air-conditioned fortresses for stashing their “stuff” and shiney gadgets….

    More better we “kick the can down the road.” Only these “cans” are our neighbors and, it is really NOT a stretch, our ohana.

  15. hipoli Says:

    Today, I read about Waimanalo homeless families getting ready for a C&C sweep. Seriously? Those are truly our Hawaiian community. I just cant believe it. That will be a sad sad thing to watch. And watch we all will, in complacent silence.

    Have any of you been down to the Next Step homeless shelter? Its almost all micronesian women and their kids. Sorry if I open a can of Arizona-worms, but it totally disgusts me to watch these micronesian men drive up in their fancy SUVs when the shelter opens 5pm, unload their 10 women and their 20 kids, and then drive off to go whereever to go drink the night away. It is a disgusting abuse of a shelter that Im sure we all want for the truly needy.

    Regardless of the abuse, I actually think the two shelters Linda Lingle built are probably going to be her greatest legacy. She built those when no other D-Governor did, when our current D-Governor candidate was showing anything but compassion. I have no problem giving her credit where I feel credit is due to her. She certainly didnt resolve homelessness, but dammit, she tried to do a good thing. I just wish she would build one more in Waimanalo before she leaves.

    Charles, I know what youre saying. Its all disjointed. But I can name multiple pressing state issues that are the same way. But thats why I wonder if we force all the communities become engage perhaps there will be more pressure to focus resources more efficiently and effectively.

  16. Michael Says:

    Building shelters for homeless still means they are homeless. A home should be a home to own or rent.
    lingle cannot save jobs and temporary homes will not help the homeless problem.

    If homeless want to live on the beach, let them live there but they have to landscape the area to keep it nice. Clean up the area for others to use.

    It seems that Hawaii and America can help other nations but cannot help their own people.

  17. Shaloha Says:

    I have a wonderful suggestiont that will solve this issue once and for all: Everyone who belives that there is a “homeless” problem should take a “homeless” family or an individual and take care of them!

    Please give them a place to stay and a meal to eat and a car to drive and some vodka and drugs plus a color TV.

    Why is it always the same thing with the Democrats? Why do they insist on socializing their avowed social responsibilities?

    If one truly belives that there is a “homeless” problem, one is not precluded by law or any known moral system “from helping their fellow man”. A sensitive and compassionate person will have to step in and take upon themselves to contribute to a “just” society.

    The truth is that “homeless” issue was created by the Democrat party just like each and every one social problem in this country: high rents brought by the astronomical tax rates necessary to employ thousands of Democrats at all levels of government; draconian and unneccessary zoning laws that bar any additioanl high density construction in the urban core; astronomical labor rates demanded by the Democrat controlled unions amking any affordable construction a mere dream, etc, etc. Also, least we not forget, the Democrats de-institutionalized hundreds of mentally ill and tossed them on the streets as well.

    Predictably, Democrats created the problem and now the only solution is (drumroll!) more Government, more Taxes paid by someone else, more regulations etc – which is the Democrat answer to every problem in the planet be it “homelessness” or oil spill.

    I urge Democrats to put their $ and open their homes and leave us alone – we can solve this problem overnight, if needed, all you want is to engage in predictable games to increase the size of the government and guarantee your employment.

  18. Michael Says:

    Would it be better if families of those homeless do the taking in? Pay airfare expenses to reunite families? First. relatives then outside help. Like those with drug problems, family does the helping and if they need more help then the government helps. We help.

    It should not be a democrat of republican issue on homeless. It is a issue for both since we have a republican governor but majority democrats.
    I also feel things have gotten out of hand by both parties. One is cleaning up the others mess or vice versa. Neither party is helping by fighting each other. The people want to help but it is by permission of those who lead us that says yes or no.

    I did not know that one who is homeless has to be democrat of republican. I just thought of those as unfortunate people, by choice or not.

  19. Michael Says:

    “In each council district”
    In other words pass the buck.

  20. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Unfortunately, I accidentally erased my first post when I went to get the following citation. I thought I’d opening up a separate window, but clearly I didn’t; however, I cannot take the time to try to reconstruct it.

    Please take the time to read it this weekend as we celebrate the 4th of July. Although written for a national audience, the critical points the author makes are just as applicable here in Hawai`i.

    As soon as I finished reading it yesterday, I sent off a copy to our Blog Host.


  21. Michael Says:

    Doesn’t it take two to Tango.
    One dancing alone, weird?

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