Chinatown merchants say homeless problem is 'intolerable' - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Chinatown merchants say homeless problem is 'intolerable'

Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock
Ed Broman Ed Broman
Joseph Young Joseph Young

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii News Now received a flood of emails reacting to our homeless, tent city story in Kakaako. One group was especially vocal. The Chinatown Business and Community Association says the expanding sidewalk beds and tents in ITS neighborhood have created unease on its streets.

At the CBCA's monthly meeting, homelessness tops the agenda. President Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock asked us to take a walking tour - to expose the problem.

Kwock took us to the corner of Kekaulike and King Streets. "By the time of about 5pm when the market closes, it's a sleeping quarters for our street people. It's blanket to blanket. It's like a mini tent city."

By day, the homeless camp out at nearby Aala park or on the sidewalks skirting the neighborhood. At night, they wander back into Chinatown - usually until daybreak. Some clean up after themselves, but others leave bedding, food, and foul things behind.

"I don't know how many times I've had somebody right in front of this door right here, just feces sitting right in the front," says Ed Broman. Broman helps manage shops along Hotel street and says it happens at least two to three times a week - in that storefront alone. The CBCA says merchants are becoming resentful of this long-standing problem, and they want a solution now.

The Lung Doo Benevolent Society building sits right on the corner of Kekaulike mall and Hotel street. Workers are afraid to report to police about the sleeping, loitering, drug dealing, and littering that goes on.

"We cannot have them arrested them unless we complain, make a formal complaint, and the people, the president don't want to do that," says society member, Joseph Young. Why? Young replies, "Because they don't want reprisal. They don't want people to come by and do something to the building."

Those we interviewed aren't complaining without compassion. They're pleased Governor Neil Abercrombie recently appointed a homeless coordinator and have been giving suggestions to legislators. Shubert-Kwock says, "It's not one group's way to find a solution. It has to be together and pull all the resources together and pull the brainpower together."

The association would like to see more street lights put up for safety reasons, and a lot of people we talked to say they'd like to have more public restrooms put in place for health reasons.

But they're tired of the homeless problem growing instead of getting better - and just want everyone to feel welcome and safe when they come to Chinatown.

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