New homeless proposal would involve police enforcement - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

New homeless proposal would involve police enforcement

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The back and forth between the homeless and the city continues but a new proposal hopes to take enforcement to a new level.

The city did a sidewalk enforcement on Iwilei Road and Kuwili Street Friday removing the illegal camps, but they're back. Now a councilman wants to get police involved.

There are plenty of homeless camps in Kakaako, many more downtown near Aala Park as well as in Iwilei. They are all areas that are routinely cleared to remove the homeless, only to have them set up camp again a day later, which is why City Councilman Ikaika Anderson's new plan calls on the Honolulu Police Department.

"It will also allow for more swift and immediate action in removing tents from sidewalks without making the act in and of itself criminal," said Councilmember Ikaika Anderson.

With his idea frustrated residents can call Police instead of the city to get homeless off sidewalks. Anderson's original idea called for arresting the homeless, but now it would be a citation if the illegal campers didn't get off the sidewalk and leave.

"This is a society that has to be based on compassion. If we don't have compassion then what are we all about?" said Marya Grambs, Mental Health America of Hawaii Executive Director.

"We want to have compassion in the sense that we don't want to be arresting people but the citizens of Honolulu do deserve access to their sidewalks," said Councilman Anderson.

"We are people. We may have issues be we are people," said Colette Fish, a 53 year old homeless woman who has been on the streets a year and a half. She says she has been homeless at other points in her life as well.

Since starting the sidewalk enforcement law last July the city has spent $330,000 confiscating belongings and only one person has paid the $200 fine in order to get their stuff back.

The fine for Councilman Anderson's new bill hasn't been decided yet. He also needs to check with HPD to see how they feel about what would be an expanded role.

"I look forward to having the conversation," said Councilman Anderson.

The city has had some victories. Thomas Square was tent free today. The sidewalk at Old Stadium Park was clear and free of homeless. There were even families playing on the playground.

Councilman Anderson's bill that would've arrested homeless is scheduled to be heard in committee meetings tomorrow, but he says he is going to defer that one and instead introduce the new bill calling on police involvement and fines.

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