Lawmakers Push to Move Homeless into "Safe Zones" Before APEC - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmakers Push to Move Homeless into "Safe Zones" Before APEC

Representative John Mizuno (in dark coat) Representative John Mizuno (in dark coat)
Mark Alexander Mark Alexander
Judith Clark Judith Clark
Tom Brower Tom Brower

By Stephanie Lum - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC summit coming up, some lawmakers say it's important Hawaii put its best foot forward and that includes keeping top tourist spots free of the homeless.

"Let me explain or put it this way.  You invite some guests into your home for a meeting, you're not going to have your home in shambles," said Representative John Mizuno.

Mizuno's proposing the government set up a "safe zone" or tent city. It would be a designated place where people living on sidewalks or parks can go.  It'll have a restroom and shower and no drugs would be allowed.

Not everyone agrees with the proposed plan.

The State's Homelessness Coordinator Mark Alexander says there is no guarantee people will actually live in these safe zones.

"We believe that the better way of approaching things is offering people what they really need and want and we know that in most cases, if offered permanent supportive housing, real hope in the form of affordable housing and job development, that moves people in the right direction," said Alexander.

There were other questions raised about the plan in today's hearing such as the location of these safe zones, which are right now slated for Kakaako and Kalaeloa, as well as the rules for the camp sites and how they'll be enforced.

"I think there are safety considerations for minors on their own living in an encampment with a number of older adults. I think there is risk of physical or sexual abuse," said Executive Director of Hawaii Youth Services Network Judith Clark.

Representative Tom Brower said "safe zones" or not, something needs to be done before the APEC in November.

"I hope that we're in a much better position when we have APEC to fix this city. We have people camping everywhere right now and if the government doesn't take the lead, they will continue to do that," said Brower. 


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