Homeless Frustration For Kailuans
While city and state officials begin to enact rules and programs to address the homeless problems in town, Kailua can offer its own microcosm of the issue that’s polarizing Oahu and frustrating everyone.
“Nothing can be done,” wrote Claudia Webster, an incensed resident of Meridian East, who has sought police support to remove a camper from the area. “This man takes up the sidewalk, has numerous shopping carts which he stashes in many places … Today (early September) he has his laundry hanging on the fence by the former gas station. He has ‘stuff’ scattered from the corner by Meridian East’s side door all the way down the sidewalk.”
The man has since moved to the sidewalk between the parking lot and the empty gas station, Webster reported, and she has received several responses to her emailed plea for help. The police come frequently and remove accumulated debris, such as cardboard, bottles, a mattress, she said.
“They are doing all they can with the laws we currently have. They are as frustrated as we in the neighborhood are.” Webster said officers visit the Meridian East camper two or three times a week. “They talk to him, remove carts and junk, and offer help, which he rejects.”
City Councilman Ikaika Anderson and state Rep. Cynthia Thielen both responded to Webster and then appealed to HPD to do whatever they could to keep the area clear and safe for the public. It is, after all, across from the Kailua police station.
Thielen also wanted clarification on laws about storing personal goods on public property. “I have heard very positive things about the Housing First idea,” she emailed Borges. “But in the meantime, I do believe we need to and can stop misuse of public property.”
Acknowledging homelessness as an islandwide epidemic, District 4 Maj. Ryan Borges replied that “HPD D4 will continue to partner with our community to find a solution to the homeless issue and continue to enforce all applicable laws.
“Being homeless is not a crime,” he added. “It is a complex social problem.”
The complex social problem has upped the town’s crime rates, and spread beyond the heart of Kailua to its beach park. Officials say Windward’s homeless population has doubled since last year, with no increase in resources to help them.
The problem also comes up at Kailua Neighborhood Board meetings. Closing some municipal parking areas overnight has been discussed. In September, one member suggested bringing in surplus boats, or erecting mini homes in Honolulu parking lots as cheap housing units for homeless people.
Meanwhile, a $3-million Veterans Administration grant for fiscal year 2015 was just announced by U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. It will support homeless and at-risk veterans and their families in Hawaii, on top of similar grants of more than $2 million, announced in August for FY2014. Catholic Charities Hawaii and U.S. VETS get to split the money.
The goal, Gabbard stated, is to give veterans the support and resources they need in order to secure permanent housing and provide a stable environment for their families.