Tackling the homeless issue in Kakaako requires a coordinated response by various landowners and government agencies, Gov. David Ige said Tuesday at the Hawaii Publishers Association’s quarterly meeting.
"I’ve been meeting with all of the players involved, trying to come up with a plan for what do we do in the immediate, what opportunities do we have," he said.
The challenge in Kakaako is complicated by multiple landowners and various jurisdictions, he added.
The homelessness issue on Oahu was among the key issues raised by HPA members at The Plaza Club in downtown Honolulu.
The governor answered questions raised by association members on various issues following his presentation of goals that aim to improve Hawaii, including strengthening the state’s economy, upgrading the state’s information technology system, and maintaining and strengthening the relationship between Hawaii and Japan.
Sherry Goya, executive director of the Publishers Association, asked what Ige’s plans are to address the homeless encampment in Kakaako. "I know the city and county, HCDA (Hawaii Community Development Authority) and the state are trying to work on something, but it has gotten so bad that it’s really dangerous for the children and the parents going there," said Goya, who also serves as executive director of the Kakaako Improvement Association.
Last week HCDA, which oversees development in Kakaako, held a meeting to hear concerns on the issue and recognized that coordination among the city, state and social service providers is vital to address specific needs of people who are homeless.
Efforts to address homeless campers in Kakaako were stepped up following the recent assault on state Rep. Tom Brower in Kakaako.
Ige said another challenge involves reaching out to homeless campers who choose to live on the street.
"So it’s not about simply having space for them to go; it’s about trying to understand why they choose to be on the street and trying to provide the support in a way that would encourage them to seek shelter."
One of the long-term solutions being discussed is trying to create shelters in every community.