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Homelessness concerns Hawaii Kai

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    Kamehameha Schools cleared a 2-acre parcel that had generated neighborhood complaints about either being a homeless encampment or a place for kids to hang out and party.


    Michael Yoshikawa picks up rubbish that was left behind after the homeless were cleared from land near the Hawaii Kai Dog Park. Yoshikawa said he and his girlfriend once lived there but have moved to another area nearby.

Efforts underway in Hawaii Kai to clear dense foliage from areas where homeless people are suspected of camping out are stoking worries that the homeless might end up encroaching on residential areas.

“These people are going to be looking for other areas, and they’re going to be going into the neighborhoods,” said Elizabeth Reilly, vice chairwoman of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board. “If you clear them out of one area and the encampment is now exposed, they move.”

She added, “All we’re doing is kicking the can down the road.”

Earlier this year people were seen “disappearing” into 3 acres of overgrown vegetation along Hawaii Kai Drive that belong to the Hawaii Kai Marina Community Association, said marina manager Beverly Liddle. Subsequently, 20 encampments were discovered in the brush.

“They had kitchen tables and cooking equipment and little treehouses,” Liddle said. “It was quite elaborate. We discovered it quite by accident.”

Honolulu police were notified, and the occupants were given weeks to pack and leave, which they did about three months ago. Some of the homeless campers then migrated to Hawaii Kai Marina Community Association land on Keahole Street near the “kiss-and-ride” parking area and the Hawaii Kai Dog Park, Liddle said.

Liddle said no more than “a handful of complaints,” including “using bad language at night and fighting,” have surfaced at that area.

There is plenty of confusion in Hawaii Kai about the scope of its homeless population and what to do about it.

This month state Rep. Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Queen’s Gate-Hawaii Kai) formed the Hawaii Kai Homeless Task Force. He said the number of homeless people in Hawaii Kai “could vary from 20 to 50 in various places,” and he added that he would like to see a survey conducted.

With homeless people being pushed out of Waikiki, downtown and Chinatown because of the city’s “sit-lie ban” and separate ordinances that prohibit blocking sidewalks or storing properly illegally, Ward said Hawaii Kai “is getting a lot of the overflow from Waikiki.”

“We’ve got to move on this thing,” he said. “It’s getting out of control and it’s time to act.”

But Michael Yoshikawa, 47, who has been living along the water’s edge near the dog park on Keahole Street for two years, said the estimated number of homeless people in Hawaii Kai is greatly exaggerated. He said only one other homeless person lives near the site where he lives with his girlfriend.

On Friday Yoshikawa said he has been hired to pick up trash along the shoreline, and he’s happy to show residents that not all homeless people cause problems.

“There are people who want to help us,” Yoshikawa said, “and there are people who just want us out of here.”

In response to community concerns about homeless encampments on its property, Kamehameha Schools just spent nearly $35,000 to have a contractor clear brush and garbage from its 2-acre parcel along Hawaii Kai Drive near the post office.

Even so, R. Kalani Fronda and Todd Gray of Kamehameha Schools’ Community Engagement &Resources Group — who showed the newly cleared area to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Friday — said there has not been a homeless encampment on the property in at least three years.

More likely, Fronda and Gray said, Hawaii Kai residents probably mistook a popular party spot for young people hidden among the kiawe for a homeless encampment.

When Nohonani Landscape LLC knocked down all the brush, a circle of lounge chairs and garbage were left behind. Even if homeless people were hiding out in the foliage, Gray said, no one knows where they went next.

“We know that chasing them out of one area means they go to another area,” he said.

Kamehameha Schools also owns a vacant parcel on Keahole Street, which it’s also been asked to clear out of concerns over homeless activity, Kamehameha Schools spokesman Kekoa Paulsen said.

Over the past year, while area residents have brought concerns about homelessness encampments to the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, no specific complaints of crime or harassment have surfaced, said board secretary Rene Garvin.

Hawaii Kai residents “just come to the neighborhood board and complain” about homeless-related problems, Garvin said. “It is a divisive issue.” Among the more potentially daunting problems, she said: “There isn’t anywhere for them to go. This is larger than just Hawaii Kai.”

Asked about the most serious complaint lodged against Hawaii Kai’s homeless, the neighborhood board’s Reilly paused and then recalled seeing some apparently homeless people scrounging through Goodwill donations that they left strewn about.

“It hasn’t gotten too far,” Reilly said. “That’s the closest thing I’ve seen.”

Board Chairwoman Natalie Iwasa has heard lots of numbers thrown around about Hawaii Kai’s homeless population, but she’s seen only three people she maintains are homeless, usually along Kalanianaole Highway.

But anxiety, tied to the opinion that a homeless population that’s been largely hidden is now coming out in the open, is continuing to grow.

“People are just concerned,” Iwasa said. “Some people say, ‘Just get them out of here.’ Some are wondering if there’s some way to help these people.”

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    • Don’t worry, this is an easy fix — the City and State will use compassionate disruption to encourage the homeless to move into Waianae and Kalihi. Problem solved!

      • Mililani Mauka has absolutely beautiful parks, bathrooms, and sidewalks. I’m surprised the homeless haven’t made their way out there. Simple solution…DON’T FEED THE BIRDS!!!NO FOOD, NO MONEY, NO HELP. IF YOU DO, THEY WILL COME!!!If the churches and organizations want to feed the homeless, let them do it from their own parking lots and not somewhere far away from their own neighborhood. Sad to say but the more you help, the more will come. It’s getting out of hand here in Hawaii. Out of control!!!

    • I realize that you are being sarcastic. What’s unbelievable are all the ignorant posts below suggesting that this is a new problem for Hawaii Kai. As an FYI to others Hawaii Kai has had a homeless problem for at least 26 years. On elf the first living on the streets out there was the brother of a well known local TV newswoman…

    • Yup it’s a problem now. So bet you they start from Hawaii Kai move them to Kaimuki then on to Makiki, Kalihi, Pearl City, Waipahu and eventually ending in Waianae. Start from the top down. ALOHA

    • Neighborhoods beware! The City and County recently purchased a Country zoned lot (1 house per acre) and wants to rezone it to a high density, urban property for the homeless. Watch out, that 7000+ square foot House lot for sale in your neighborhood can easily be purchased by the City and rezoned to a multi story building for the homeless. So instead of having a new neighbor move into that house for sale, you may end up with a village. Don’t allow sneaky Caldwell and his team to do such sweeping zone changes. Unfortunately, they’re trying to and hoping you don’t notice.

    • Pure shibai. I’ve been to many mainland Costcos and not one beggar as you assert. Especially when you failed to consider shopping centers are private property.

      Just making up urban legends.

      • Agreed. Have not seen even ONE homeless person carrying the cardboard sign at ANY of the Costcos I’ve visited on the mainland, and that is quite a few. Quit spinning falsehoods, marcus.

        • See them all the time at Costco’s. I am not making this up. And to localguy; they stand on the median just off of the property. Have you even drived past Iwelei or HK lately, not to mention many Costco’s in Oregon (the land of liberalism and free handouts)!

  • Hawaii Kai could afford more homeless people! What are they grumbling bout? Have these Hawaii Kaian’s go and visit the campsites on the WestSide. Spoiled brats!

  • The new Homeless, usually they are wearing shoes and have clean clothes (recent arrivals), are quick in there mobility. They leave early to catch the Bus to town. They pretty much stay out of site during the day.

  • Homelessness concerns Hawaii Kai ? It is the proliferation of poor quality people that should be of great concern to any thinking human being. There should be research why the quality of people is deteriorating because that is at the bottom of homelessness increase.

  • ahhhh….hahahahahah…. Now they know how it the rest of us feels like to have a homeless problem in their neighborhood. Send more. Send some to Kailua also.

    • Amen, we’ve had to tolerate the large number of homeless in Waianae for what seems like forever. I was shopping at the Waianae Tamuras this weekend and was hit up by the usual pan handlers asking for a “dollah”. While I was standing in line at the check out, an older Hawaiian lady with her young granddaughter spoke to the cashier, saying” you know, you get so many people out in your parking lot asking for money, three wen ask me before I got inside. Then she added “shoot ’em already”.

  • I think the numbers are exaggerated. the reason homeless don’t move to Hawaii Kai is the residents, churches and businesses don’t enable their lifestyle choice out there. in Waikiki, churches and nonprofits deliver food to Kapiolani park and the beach park. When new legislation is passed, legal aid advises homeless on strategies to skirt the new laws. I’ve personally attended the Waikiki beach pizza party where legal aid told homeless to move to the space between sidewalk and street. I go to Hawaii Kai four times a week and have yet to see anyone give homeless there a handout.

  • What amazes me about homeless camps is you don’t see them in Filipino neighborhood park areas. Does the neighborhood take care of their own or do the rascal teenagers/gangs go out and prevent illegal camping/loitering?

  • Well, now that it’s a “concern” in Hawai`i Kai, homelessness is moving closer to being an island-wide problem, instead of just downtown, Waikiki and the West Side. Welcome to the real world.

  • Rich and the Shameless is now having problems with Homeless People uh? Remember :You reap what you sow… This nation and state chose to turn a blind eye and didn’t want to anything… now they have the Homeless in their back yard and wants them out or do something about it… Nobody wants to state the real problem: GREED. Its GREED that make property to high of a price that most folks can’t afford rent. Too many foreign investors and cronies doing each other favors and getting paid for minimum work, State officials favoring friends, city works getting paid without really working, people who go home after 6 hours work time, Etc Etc I could go on forever…. But remember this you know whats wrong with this society… but You(everyone) do anything about it. You (citizen of hawaii) rather watch TV and BBQ in the weekends and complain about whats wrong and who’s to blame. I know that there is others that are more responsible and should and will be accounted for , but if you’re for who to blame all you have to do is look at the mirror…

    • Spot-on @riceKidd, you nailed it. It’s corporate greed, soon there will be no middle-class in America just the rich and the poor. I myself own a business but yet struggle to live just a comfortable life, but I like @ryan02 said can say that I got to live in Hawaii when simple was the norm.

    • 11 million illegal immigrants take the jobs a typically low IQ low education homeless person would otherwise have a chance to get. And the illegals also take the cheap junk rental places away. Trump would fix this!

    • Another major reason why there is an uptick in homelessness is because of the drastic federal cuts to government housing/Section 8 vouchers. These cuts have been going on for several years. Thus state and local governments are forced to pick up the tab. So it is a widely held misconception that the taxpayer is paying more to provide a safety net for the least fortunate among us. While it may be true that more state taxes are being used–much less of our federal taxes are used to assist those who can’t afford to pay market-priced rent.

  • The State will raise taxes to build unlimited numbers of free housing units (probably in Kalihi or Waianae area, as those tend to be the State’s dumping grounds, and with ever-increasing segregation from the wealthy investments properties). Then we can welcome unlimited numbers of people from the Mainland and Micronesia who want to live in Hawaii for free. Other than this idea, I haven’t heard any alternatives from our politicians — so I’m assuming this IS the State’s real plan. I feel sorry for future generations, but selfishly I can say at least I got to see Hawaii when it was a beautiful place for the working class.

  • Before sit-lie, park closures, and other incredibly stupid local laws trying to criminalize the poor out of existence, Oahu still had plenty of homeless people, but they were distributed in most neighborhoods and communities, fairly low key…not concentrated like it is now. That concentration and people who delight in herding/hunting of the poor is toxic and inhumane. Illegal to sleep, illegal to pee and no public restrooms. On and on. We marginalize them to the point of inhumanity then complain about how dirty and hopeless they are. the homeless “point in time” count is a useful place to start understanding the scope of this crisis. If all our homeless were to actually seek formal shelter, weʻd find out fast that there are about 200 beds and over 3000 people needing them. The fastest growing homeless demographic in Hawaii is the working poor – often families with multiple jobs, no health insurance or in medical bankruptcy, who simply cannot afford rent. When you trash the homeless, remember they are mostly local, mostly working, disproportionately Native Hawaiian, many seniors, and 25% are kids. We need real affordable housing solutions and protections, and a functional mental health and healthcare social safety net – not witch hunts by publicity hungry City Council types (looking at you, Tulsi – you dubious fountainhead of sit/lie).

  • Gotta blame the DEMOCRATS…..Government always freely giving the free handouts…No need to work. Make more kids receive more $$$$. Government handouts are easy to get…Have kids and no get married, claim that you’re a single parent, still live together and receive free $$$$ from the government even though the dad may have a well paying job. This is the perpetual government screw up. We all know this is happening and look the other way.

  • The ONLY thing Hawaii Kai residents are concerned with is that the problem is migrating to THEIR side of the island. But it’s okay when the problem remains on the Waianae Coast.

  • If ever we needed Frank Fasi again. I say the solution is simple.

    1) Get a mayor with balls.

    2) Find an obscure, unused, low-value parcel of land out in some undesirable location on the leeward side of the island and designate it a “HOMELESS SAFE ZONE.” Begin a massive flier campaign of all the homeless camps informing them that this parcel of land is open, free to use, and they will not be harassed there. Give them 30 days to relocate there if they choose. Also inform them that the city will be enforcing the sit-lie law, and not “enforcing” like with Caldwell, but ENFORCING with unprecedented police power. Ramp up sit-lie statutes with mandatory jail time for violators.

    3) Bring back chain gangs. Assign all homeless arrested for sit-lie violations to a chain gang. Force them to clean highways, parks, etc. Make this work truly horrible and borderline inhumane.

    4) Treat recent arrivals and transplants (mainland and Micronesian) especially bad, assigning them to the worst jobs around. Work them till they require hospitalization, and then give them the worst treatment possible.

    5) In the meantime, no need any upkeep or supervision at the homeless safe zone. Let the animals rub each other out. Drugs? Alcohol? Weapons? Let’em in! Have at it, folks!

    6) Begin airing commercials nationally and in Micronesia showing Honolulu’s new, innovative technique to controlling our homeless population. Come up with a catchy theme, like “THIS IS HOW WE DEAL WITH HOMELESS IN HAWAII.” Obviously, have that translated into Chuukese.

    7) Much like Sheriff Joe in Maricopa, AZ, Honolulu will begin making national, possibly international news. Mainland vagrants will think twice about spending their last $300 to fly here. Micronesians will begin looking for other states to occupy and suck up all the social services. Tourists and those with money will know: Hawaii is NOT a bum-friendly place. Tourists and those with money will return to vacation here.

    8) Everyone wins. Well, not the homeless, but they should be used to not winning.

    9) Award Yotare the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. If Obama “deserved” one, I deserve five.

    • @YOTARE

      If you were to have substituted “Gulag” for imprisonment and subsequent forced hard labor chain gangs for the homeless, “Nazi concentration camp and the elitist mentality that enabled support for it” for the creation of a Homeless Safe Zone, “Great Purge” for the island wide enforcement of the sit/lie, your bigoted statements concerning minorities, such as those of Micronesian ancestry, namely the Chuukese, with “anti-semitic view of Jews”, if Stalin and Hitler were alive today, they would have been proud. So obviously, you being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize would be completely out of the question.

    • Great post Yotare. You got my vote. TheFarm and tigerwarrior can continue feeding the birds but please do it in your neighborhood and not in someone else’s. They will come, and they will not go away, just as long as you continue feeding them. I don’t think your neighbors will be too happy with all those birds hanging around crapping and pissing all over the place. but continue to be that good samaritan and FEED THOSE BIRDS!!!

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