Lawmaker issues map of Hawaii Kai homeless
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Hawaii News

Lawmaker issues map of Hawaii Kai homeless

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    Michael Yoshikawa threw away rubbish that was left over after the homeless were cleared from land, in August, near the Hawaii Kai dog park on Keahole Street. He and his girlfriend once lived there, but have had to move to other areas near there. A state legislator has published a map of suspected homeless people in his district in an effort to raise public awareness of the problem, but some attorneys say the effort could be unconstitutional.

  • COURTESY PHOTO

    Gene Ward:

    He says pointing out the homeless in Hawaii Kai is a safety issue

  • State Rep. Gene Ward's November 2016 newsletter.
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A state legislator has published a map of suspected homeless people in his district in an effort to raise public awareness of the problem, but some attorneys say the effort could be unconstitutional.

In his November newsletter to constituents and on his personal website, Rep. Gene Ward has a map pointing to allegedly chronic homeless people who have taken up residence in and around Hawaii Kai.

The map describes a man at China Walls as a meth addict “Whose Mother Has Restraining Order Against Him” and, at Hawaii Kai Towne Center, a “Mentally Ill Homeless Man (who) Frequently Screams at People.” They are among 11 suspected homeless hot spots from Sandy Beach to Hahaione.

For Ward it’s a safety issue.

Ward (R, Kalama Valley-­Queen’s Gate-Hawaii Kai) said he worries about homeless encampments in Hawaii Kai, so he helped form a homeless task force in August and has been writing about East Honolulu homeless issues ever since in his monthly newsletter.

His map of homeless locations took up one-third of the front page of his two-page newsletter in November and is featured prominently on his website, gene-ward.com.

Ward said he had two messages in mind when he published the map:

“We know where they are and what they’re doing,” Ward told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “This is to let the community know that we know where they are, and those people in homeless communities (need) to tell their friends that Hawaii Kai is not a friendly community.”

But Ward could be running afoul of federal privacy laws that protect the disclosure of medical conditions, as well as jeopardizing potential federal funding to Hawaii from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Tristia Bauman, senior attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based National Law Center on Homeless & Poverty.

“All of the various ways that excluding an entire group of people and telling them that they’re not welcome has been found over the course of American history to be unconstitutional,” Bauman said. “To devise a map could run afoul of a number of different laws. We all are free to move in and out of neighborhoods at will under the Constitution. That’s part of our liberty. And it could create unintended consequences such as vigilantism.”

Bauman said such efforts don’t work and merely raise a false sense of security among concerned residents.

“We find this to be common across criminalization strategies across the country,” she said. “Government knows it will not produce long-term solutions, but it does give the appearance of doing something for people who don’t like to see people living on the street. It’s really ineffective, bad policy that doesn’t address any of the underlying causes of homelessness. The answer isn’t to chase them out of wealthier neighborhoods and push them into less affluent neighborhoods.”

Under President Barack Obama’s administration, Bauman said, HUD provides funding to “incentivize constructive alternatives to criminalization, such as those types of policies that successfully and effectively address the underlying causes of homelessness.”

As a case in point, Rhode Island officials years ago added the names and photos of suspected homeless people to a website of sex offenders, Bauman said.

The effort was intended “to try to shame people and point them out,” she said. “For what purpose is unclear to me since it didn’t get them off the street.”

Rhode Island officials took down the website in response to threats of legal action, Bauman said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii also called Ward’s map potentially unconstitutional.

“Publishing a map of ‘reported homeless events’ in public areas only serves to move us further away from addressing the causes of homelessness,” Mateo Caballero, the Hawaii ACLU’s legal director, wrote in an email to the Star-Advertiser. “Instead, it is an open invitation to further profile, dehumanize and harass those that have nowhere to go except our parks, sidewalks and shared public spaces. The Constitution protects the rights of the poor and homeless against government policies that target them unfairly or criminalize their mere existence.”

Ward couldn’t say that publishing the map has led to any reduction in homeless complaints or activity in East Oahu, and couldn’t recommend the idea be duplicated in other island communities.

“Until there are results we can document, we’re not ready to say it’s ready to replicate,” Ward said.

He said it did not occur to him that readers of his newsletter might visit the sites to personally inform the homeless that they are not welcome.

As part of his initiative, Ward created what he calls the Hawaii Kai Advisory Council, which includes a four-member Hawaii Kai Homeless Task Force.

Task force member Lane Woodall, a Mariners Cove resident, insists the map — along with ongoing offers of assistance to the homeless — already has reduced Hawaii Kai’s homeless population.

“A lot of people have their head in the sand and didn’t even know about the encampments,” Woodall said.

Woodall has formed a separate organization she calls “CATFIGHT: Citizens Aligning to Fix Inadequate Government Handling of Transients.”

“For us it’s a safety issue,” she said. “I’ve lived in Hawaii Kai for 40-some years. I want to feel safe in my neighborhood. I don’t know if they’re on drugs, if they’re sex offenders. They could easily yank you off the street and rape someone. Neighborhoods have to become more assertive and say, ‘It’s not fair to allow people in your communities without any protection for its citizens.’ … I’m on the lookout every night.”

Ward distanced himself from Woodall’s comments.

“Lane’s not a mainstream representative of this task force,” he said. “She’s too aggressive. She’s too much vigilante. She considers what we’re doing as too passive.”

But, like Woodall, Ward believes it’s in the public’s best interest to publish the location of every homeless person in East Honolulu.

“Pointing out a clear and present danger is part of my job,” Ward said. “It’s important for people to know where there’s danger.”

69 comments

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  • Fear and ignorance do nothing to solve the problem. Create legislation to shelter or to allow homeless to become a ‘ward’ of the state. That’s how you solve real problems. Not try to shame and chase them away.

    • You do understand your idea means more tax dollars, tax increase, to cover the expense of your ideas. And as we all know, once the state takes over, cost skyrockets while little gets done. Are you ready for a property tax increase? Another state money pit like pensions, education, infrastructure?

      Put all those who can prove they are local at the front of the assistance line, those who just arrived from out of state either at the back of the line or offer a free ticket home.

      Local money for local people first.

      • You do realize that a republican governor tried this and had some success? As for property tax increase, I can accept it provided it actually goes to something good and not towards expanding the prison industrial complex.

        • Homeless shelters are prisons. You pay and get nothing in return. Ship them to Detroit into $1 homes. Enough of this raise taxes to support bums on a cost prohibitive island.

    • Only local people have shame. Mainland transplants do not have shame which is why there are so many of them in downtown. They need to be sent home as they have no Aloha and do not belong here.

      • The majority of the government union workers are to blame, they voted in these I_D_I_O_T_S that pander to bums and illegals. Then they wonder where all their taxes went! As long as they keep voting for the “Donkey” party every election, the insanity will continue.

    • True. Let us apply our tax money where it does some good. I don’t really get Ward’s rationale for this, though. And only 11 homeless? Wow. Other communities have far more.And please. Stop closing shelters like the one that Ige forced the non-profit to close in Wahiawa…Lift all regulations until we have the money and will to build the larger, better equipped shelters. We need all hands on deck for this public health disaster.

        • Sounds more like Ward wants a gang of thugs to go around and pound these guys than help them. How dare the homeless step into a wealthy community. The nerve of those guys. Git outta hea!!

      • Why waste time and resources making the shelters more luxurious? There’s shelter space available now and homeless choose their carefree lifestyle instead. Giving them more room will not change the fact that they do not want to follow rules. Creating more lenient rules (i.e., allowing substance abusers) will only make it a greater disincentive for those currently in shelters, especially those with children. It’s not time to lift regulations but create regulations for the three types of homeless: mental/drug issues, down on their luck, and those making a lifestyle choice. Let’s build a state psychiatric facility to house the mentally ill and drug users. If they fail a drug or psychiatric test, they will be sent to this facility for help. Invest the rest of the money for homeless due to unforseen circumstances. No help for those making a lifestyle choice. When they go hungry, they will go to a shelter and learn to follow rules (like the rest of us).

      • I don’t think the intent of the map was to ask for help. It’s to facilitate community awareness. Previously, it was hard for homeless “to make a living” in Hawaii Kai because no one would feed or enable their lifestyle. Churches would not dare as they would lose membership. Same would go for the business owners in the area. Someone or some group is feeding them now. Cut that lifeline and they will return to Waikiki, downtown and Kakaako.

  • “Instead, it is an open invitation to further profile, dehumanize and harass those that have nowhere to go except our parks, sidewalks and shared public spaces.” There is a place for them…shelters. But most don’t like shelters and their rules. Sorry but it is time to get tough with these people and force them into shelters and off OUR streets.

  • Here we go again. Totally clueless bureaucrats, Tristia Bauman, senior attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based National Law Center on Homeless & Poverty and the HI ACLU are super quick to criticize but when it comes to being part of the solution they are no where to be seen.

    Admitting what everyone has known for years, never, ever, trust a bureaucrat. The will always tell you what you can’t do but will never, ever help be part of the solution. Why not? They lack the professional skills and experience to do real, sweat creating work. Just sit in their fat office chair and whine like step children.

      • Your post has no relevancy to the question at hand. When did the ACLU force women to have children. Your up to early since conservatives have no relation to the radical ACLU or any other neo pro socialist organization. Read your own post and see for yourself if it relates to the one above.

    • NanakuliBoss, is busy selling those empty beer cans at the recycling center to scrape up some more money to pay his new 12.6% property tax increase. Things will get really hilarious for him when Obamacare will stick him with a 35% premium increase! LOL

  • Sounds like a SMART plan, why does this city and state not do the same? The homeless are not entitled to live anywhere they want, we have rules and laws for a reason !!

  • HIPAA laws do not prevent a person from sayiing “he’s a method addict” or “he’s mentally ill and screams at people”. HIPAA is to protect your medical privacy when it is revealed in medical records. Ward is not these peoples doctor, he is simply I forming the public. I would challenge the ACLU whether this is unconstitutional. Sounds more like violating your right to freedom of speech. One more thing, Ward doesn’t even publish a name, so how is this any type of violation?

    • Seems like people (ACLU) are more concerned about rights of criminal or non-law abiding homeless. What about our rights as law abiding, tax paying citizens to live without being in fear of criminals, trepassers, and dirty crazy vagrants blocking sidewalks and parks ?

  • Perhaps Gene should look at what really has worked. There was that republican governor, Utah I think, who made housing the homeless a top priority and he had some success with it. Gene’s plan sounds like it would result in a lot of fights if not worse.

    • The Utah plan won’t necessarily work here as were are not only dealing with our own homeless but also those that fly in from other states. Everything is also much cheaper in Utah. I’m sure it wasn’t too hard to convince their homeless that warmer weather on the west coast and Hawaii would be more pleasant during than their harsh winters. Unfortunately for us, there is no other state that would be more attractive to be homeless in nearly all facets (weather, assistance, free housing, lenient police enforcement of laws, liberal courts, etc.). Because many Hawaii homeless are choosing the lifestyle, we have to create disincentives to be homeless instead of conjuring up more ways to enable the lifestyle.

  • I understand that many feel that more should be done to help the homeless. But what about the safety of my family in the places where we work and live? That is my primary concern, and sorry to all the bleeding hearts.

    • Nothing to be sorry for. You are absolutely correct! What about us? Everyone talks about the rights of the homeless but what about OUR rights to be able to access public spaces without having to deal with these vagrants?

      • I agree with you completely. We, the taxpayers don’t have any ACLU publicly funded organization to protect our right to live and walk on our streets without the fear of being assaulted. The seriously mentallyill homeless should be put in some kind of facility to protect the public and themselves.

        • NaloG, the serious mentally challenged should be put into a facility. True. $$$$. Back to square1, $$$$ . I no like my taxes be used. Huh?

    • Easy solution folks. Go buy one of those government houses for $1 in Detroit in the bum’s legal name, sit the BUM on the next flight straight to Detroit with the Deed taped to his forehead and pay for the Uber ride from the Detroit airport to the bums new home. Nothing illegal as no one is dumping homeless anywhere, we’re sending them straight right into his/her new house, and all paid for free and clear title too!

      1. House in Detroit = $1
      2. One way airline ticket to the mainland $450
      3. Uber or bus to their new house = $25
      The satisfaction that you’ve solved Oahu’s homelessness for under $500 per bum, PRICELESS!
      For everything else there’s Mastercard 😉

      • That’s a creative alternative but I honestly think I would rather be homeless in Hawaii than live in a Detroit ghetto and have to spend money on heat to survive the winter. But if they choose to move to Detroit, it would be a very economical way to reduce our homeless numbers.

        I personally was homeless for about a year and a half while attending UH. It was a lifestyle choice that I did not tell my friends and family about. I went to class during the day, worked a full time job at night and slept in my van after that. Took the middle seat out and slept on a futon. It was comfortable. Took showers at the beach parks and work. I didn’t think it was worth spending $300 on an apartment when I was hardly home. That gave me the funds to purchase my first property out of college.

      • 2nd amendment does you little good when all of HI is a gun free zone. Only place you can keep a gun is at home but that does you little good when you’re not home most of the time as CWP are not permitted to any law abiding citizens.

    • Start by shaming Krook Caldwell. Hey Krook, if you or one of your cronies is reading this article as you live in very close to that neighborhood, why don’t you let one of these bums live in your $4-million dollar humble historic home of distinction? I guess life must be tough for you to pay that $300 property tax bill so you need another $200k side bank job!

  • After Gene Ward created a homeless map, what is next for him, to bring his sledgehammer? Also if Ward is going to do this for Hawaii Kai why doesn’t he do this map for Waikiki, Kakaako, Iwilei, West Oahu side?

    • “Also if Ward is going to do this for Hawaii Kai why doesn’t he do this map for Waikiki, Kakaako, Iwilei, West Oahu side?” With all due respect, because its not his district?

      I went walking on Beretania by the GOODWILL store. Off the sidewalk between “Auntie Pastos” and “Goodwill” there was a pile of poo that looked like it came from a 200 lb. dog. Then by the Jack in the Box on the corner of South King Street and Piikoi, another pile. Either that or there’ a cow running amok in town.

      • If Ward is go good at getting intel on the homeless, he can help his fellow State legislatures in the other districts as well. Gene should work on mapping out the homeless in the Beretania St area near Blaisdell and solve the mystery of the sidwalk poo per. Is there a giant dog like an adult Saint Bernard on the loose on Beretania St, did Lani Moo escape the petting zoo or is it another homeless person doing their business anywhere they feel like it?

        • Very good! Happy Holidays to you Inverse! To see several piles of “poo” and realizing it ain’t from an animal, well some may say these kinds of humans are animals, we have got a HUGE PROBLEM.

          I still shake my head that the powers that be will spend an unknown amount going into the billions on the rail project (which they admit won’t substantially address the traffic problems) yet let this homeless crisis fester.

    • Because those aren’t his districts. He is serving those living in his community. If I lived in the area, I would appreciate those maps to know where my family may be at risk. Put more pressure on the legislators responsible for the areas you mention.

  • Kick um down da road to the high rent district. The state should be putting a lot more resources into the homeless problem. I still hear that some communities on the mainland are giving one way tickets to Hawaii for the homeless. Not helpful to our problem.

    • A myth. Most of our homeless are local, 25% Native Hawaiian and growing. Working families and children #1 growing demographic. Read state “point in time” count reports. We do not have a homelessness crisis. We have an affordable housing crisis.

  • Kudos to Rep. Ward for shining a spotlight on the failure of the state and C&C of Honolulu to implement any meaningful, effective solutions to our homeless crisis here.

  • For valid safety concerns and our children’s well being it would be irresponsible not to share the location of the illegal homeless camping areas with the public. I for one appreciate and support Rep Ward’s initiative regarding this serious problem of being homeless.

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