Lawmakers visit Waikiki homeless, hope to create '"Safe-Zone" - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmakers visit Waikiki homeless, hope to create '"Safe-Zone"

Rep. Rida Cabanilla Rep. Rida Cabanilla
Rep. Tom Brower Rep. Tom Brower
Eddie Kapua Eddie Kapua

By Holly Juscen – bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some sleep just outside the public restrooms, a stones throw away from famous Waikiki Beach and homeless tents are sprinkled throughout the Kapiolani Park.

"This is the heartland of Oahu, and of the state for that matter, and this is where people from all over the country take picture so the homeless need to go, and they tell me they are willing to leave if we find a place for them," said Representative Rida Cabanilla, Waipahu, Ewa Beach.

That's what some state legislators are trying to do create a 'Tent City' for the homeless on Oahu. Representatives Tom Brower, Rida Cabanilla, and John Mizuno got a firsthand look at the problem in Waikiki. The House recently did pass a resolution to create a so-called 'safe-zone', one designated park for the homeless.

"Let's pick and choose where the homeless should be , the chronically homeless are not gong to go to a shelter and there is not enough housing for the 4000 homeless in Hawaii, so the government and the community need decide where the sleep overnight, " said Representative Tom Brower, Kakaako, Ala Moana, Waikiki.

Tent cities do exist in several places on the mainland. In Sacramento a homeless camp had to be shutdown because of drugs and unrest. But, Eddie Kapua, of Honolulu lived in a successful camp in Seattle and says it could work here.

"It won't be perfect but it does work. It comes down to the people, they need to govern themselves," said Eddie Kapua of Honolulu.

A bill to assist chronically homeless get housing was just passed by the governor. It's a pilot program that is just getting underway. Representative Cabanilla says that the Housing First Pilot Program will only help a few of the homeless. Cabanilla believes a tent city will solve the larger problem more quickly.

"It's a constant unending cost to the government to have to move the homeless around from this park to that park. It's like a checker game, we need an end point for these people," said Rep. Cabanilla.

Lawmakers believe it needs to be a joint effort between the city, state and the private sector, to come up with a piece of land or a park for the homeless 'safe-zone."


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