Homeless admit government needs to get tougher

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's another world underneath the Nimitz Highway. People have constructed apartment style structures, others built right over the water and some had TV's, generators, and even air conditioning.

"They came to destroy our house. A lot of things are just not the same anymore," said Sharon Souza, homeless woman who had her camp uprooted in the sweep.

When state crews finished work for the day the homeless move right back to their home.

"It's not worth it because as soon as they're done with it give us one week later and we'll be back down here again. We don't care what they say," said Souza.

"There's no easy answer to it," said Dan Meisenzahl, Hawaii Department of Transportation Spokesman. "We could erect high fences and hire security guards but is that the best use of funds when our roads need to be repaved and we have these huge projects trying to relieve traffic. So it's one of those situations where we do what we can."

Ask the people under the bridge and they'll say being homeless starts with drugs and alcohol and the government makes it easy for them.

"If they wanted us to stop they would be real hard on us," said Souza.

She fully admits the system enables them. She gets a $1,600 Supplemental Security Income check from the government every month.

"I give $600 to my daughter every month and a $1,000 for me and my boyfriend to do whatever's. I give half the money to him to do his drugs and stuff like that and the rest I use on me and my dogs and two cats I got," said Souza.

She's been homeless since she was 18. She's now 27 and is pregnant again right now. She says she's staying off drugs until she gives birth but it's tough with an abusive boyfriend.

"If he finds out I went to a treatment center, his words were if I leave him or go to treatment center or anything like that he'll kill me so that's the reason I'm not leaving yet," said Souza.

And at this point it's unknown how she'll get off her the current path in life.

The state will continue these cleanups sweeps every six months and insists it has nothing to do with the APEC meetings and all the foreign VIP's coming to town in November.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.