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Historic Ala Moana Pumping Station
KIA General Membership Meeting
For the second time in 2014, the KIA Board of Directors would like to give a big Mahalo to KIA members, the Honolulu Design Center for providing the Cupola Events Room for the meeting and GEBCO Hawaii for the name badges.
On Wednesday, August 6th, KIA members and guests had a great opportunity to hear from five panelists consisting of Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, Representative Tom Brower, Senator Brickwood Galuteria, Sheriff Robin Nagamine, and HCDA Executive DirectorAnthony Ching on the issue of the “homeless in Kakaako.” The moderator was KIA President Leslie Miasnik.
KIA’s volunteer Webmaster, Peterson Rosario, video taped the entire program for the benefit of members who were unable to attend. It is surely also worth the time for KIA members to review.
Below is a “snapshot” of the panelists answering questions:
Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga was asked about the “sit and lie sidewalk bill,” and said there were quite a few variations to the original Administration Bill 42, which was limited to Waikiki for 24-hour requirement, because of hotels, retails, mixed-use, residents and visitors. She heard complaints from businesses in downtown Chinatown who were concerned that if Bill 42 was adopted, people displaced from Waikiki would go to downtown. Bills 44, 45, and 48 are all looking to find an appropriate balance to designate which area is a mixed-use business/residential zone and what hours are appropriate for the of removal of sidewalk obstructions or people blocking easy access of sidewalks to businesses along the way.
Representative Tom Brower was told that Kakaako is a safe area for homeless, especially those who have children because it is close to doctors, agencies, and jobs. He has been an advocate for homeless “Safe Zones” for years and was asked why the homeless are not mandated to be in shelters instead of roaming the streets. He said that the Next Step shelter in the area needs to take another step, but needs to think “out of the box.” There are a lot of solutions and he supports “Housing First” which is in place now and the City plans to expand it. Until we can provide shelter for the state’s 6,000 homeless, we should open camp sites with rules so campers can be removed where they are not allowed. When he walks, he sees that segregated areas are by race, lifestyle, as well as families who don’t go into shelters because of splitting families, bedbugs, or don’t want to follow rules. The shoreline of Kakaako has become a de-facto camp site. If government will be allowing this for the next few years, they need to provide concrete rules and bathroom facilities for the people there.
Senator Brickwood Galuteria was asked if a separate Neighborhood Board or another group made up of residents and businesses would be any help to him to address the homeless issue in Kakaako and what can small business owners and larger developers working in the area to help him help us. He said that he would strongly encourage citizens and business community of Kakaako to participate in the existing boards and would not advocate for or support an additional layer. The work of the boards are listened to closely and that is the platform for the community to communicate their concerns to elected officials and many of the executive branch. Some of the other platforms that they have include not only the state legislature but the city council as well. He believes we have enough platforms by which to operate especially in this particular area of homeless.
Sheriff Robin Nagamine w as asked if calling 911 is the proper thing to do with trouble with the homeless. In the Kaakako district, 911 calls are the right call. They may dispatch to the Sheriff’s office or calls may be a co-response with HPD. Their participation with homeless is that they support the other agencies. He said that homeless it is not a law enforcement issue, and it is not illegal to be homeless. It is usually HCDA who wants to do cleans up in Kakaako, and the Sheriff ’s office assists with state property where there are encampments and are there so no one interferes with their cleanup. Also in Kakaako, when the City enforces their stored property ordinance, they see that as soon as the area is cleaned up, the homeless are back. It is frustrating but It is not illegal to do that; however, they do their part and assist so no one gets harassed when cleaning up. For the future, the Sheriff is waiting for laws that they can enforce. The sidewalks are public and anyone can stand there. Some other issues the Sheriff runs into are complaints against homeless; but if it is a criminal complaint, they need someone to complain and be willing to prosecute or they can’t arrest anyone. The Sheriff cannot just show up and chase people off.
HCDA Executive Director Anthony Ching was told that the Next Step shelter in Kakaako is run by the Waikiki Health Center and OHA is the landowner. He was asked how HCDA is working with them to help solve the homeless problem. Anthony said that this week his staff conducted a point-in-time census and has an unofficial count, but it includes people currently in the shelter who come out during the day. “Locals,” who are long-time residents (5 years or more) number about 69, Micronesians are about 52 women and children, and recent visitors to the state less than 5 years are maybe about five. He noted that HCDA is not a social service agency but are part of the solution so they conduct and appropriate about $354,000 yearly for a job training program through the Waikiki Health Center and provide a “hand-up,” encouraging residents of the Next Step shelter to participate in a job training programs. The program allows the homeless to help keep the parks clean by cleaning bathrooms and picking up trash with a 365, 24/7service. They also have them participating in “Beautification and Outreach” teams, who go out and in the course of cleaning not only help police the area along the Ohi Street area, but offer services and outreach to the homeless in the area.
There were other questions answered by the panel which were of great concern to the audience from the City, State and HCDA perspective. The issue of homeless in relation to the rail when it comes to Kakaako and how it will impact the area was discussed. Councilwoman Fukunaga stated that in Waikiki the visitor industry is looking to partner among various private sector partners to put together a fund to assist people who come here and then discover it is not easy to live on the streets to actually return home if they have an appropriate level of assistance. In the Kakaako area she has not heard that is not necessarily the case; and in the downtown Chinatown area, there is a different kind of population, as well as other islands. Pertaining to the topic of housing, Senator Galuteria said the homeless has so many faces. There are families, Vets, the mentally ill, drug abusers, and children who are homeless as well. If we found the housing, the families who can, would; but the general population is almost custom made to fit specific areas of need. Representative Brower said that the only reasonable cost effective solution is that government decides where people will camp and not allow them to camp everywhere, which is what we have in Kakaako, but we need an alternative for those people.
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Contact information for the panelists are:
Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga - 768-5006 -firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Tom Brower - 586-8520 - email@example.com
Senator Brickwood Galuteria - 586-6740 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheriff Robin Nagamine - email@example.com
HCDA Executive Director Anthony Ching - 594-0300 - firstname.lastname@example.org