City park cleanup is shifting homeless problem, not fixing it - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

City park cleanup is shifting homeless problem, not fixing it

Tim Jackson Tim Jackson
Shane Rodrigues Shane Rodrigues
State Representative John Mizuno State Representative John Mizuno
Morio Tokuza Morio Tokuza

By Holly Juscen – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since the city's homeless bans went into effect in April homeless people have been chased from parks and are now popping up in new spots, creating new tension. Now, homeless tents and shopping carts line the sidewalk along N. King Street in Honolulu.

It looks the same near the Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki. Homeless people are trying to find a safe zone.

"Cops come and kick them out, they try, but they don't really have anywhere to go, they wait for it to clear and come back," said Tim Jackson, a Honolulu resident.

Some homeless avoid being fined by pitching tents on the median near the bridge into Chinatown. It's disturbing some residents across from A'ala Park.

A notice has been posted warning residents in the apartment complex at 215 N. King St. to call 911 to report any trouble. Some says it's just another sign that all the homeless sweeps over the years aren't solving the deeper problem.

"They spend money to fix pot holes , they rip up potholes and then they re-fix the pot hole. There is a lot they could do. I don't know where the money goes but some money need to go to them, said Shane Rodrigues, a Honolulu resident.

State Representative, John Mizuno, who chairs the Committee on Human Services, says the solution is complex but he does have one idea for a quick fix.

"Perhaps we can come up with a short term solution maybe we can designate one park with proper facilities, like restrooms and where it's legally a safe for them to get public assistance. Somewhere where they feel safe and secure," said Rep John Mizuno, Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights, Moanalua, Fort Shafter.

When the city banned shopping carts and tents in an effort to clean up city parks they said social services would help those who didn't have anywhere to go, but that doesn't always work either.

One homeless man in downtown Honolulu said he doesn't need help.  "I don't want help, I can help myself," said Morio Tokuza, who has been homeless for one a year.

"We need strong solutions now not later. The problem is only going to get worse. Per capita we are highest in the nation as far as homelessness." said Rep. Mizuno

Homelessness on Oahu alone is up by 15 % over last year. Some lawmakers are working throughout the summer to tackle the problem so they can come up with better legislation when the 2010 session begins.

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