KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - His presence is unmistakable at Kailua Beach Park. He identifies himself as Mike, a 61-year old homeless man who has set up his belongings underneath the concessions window, right in front of the main entryway on the Kalapawai side of the park.
"I lived here 61 years in Kailua, this is the only place I know, is Kailua" he said.
Mike is there, he claims, because there aren't any services available to him in his home community. He told Hawaii News Now that he broke his hip at the Kailua boat ramp, and was treated at Castle Medical Center three weeks ago. After receiving treatment, he was discharged. Because he is immobile, he needed a place where he could sit, rest, mend and stay clear of the elements.
"I got let out of the hospital, where was I supposed to go? So I came here" he said.
His presence highlights the problem facing Kailua: a growing homeless population with no resources available to them.
"Definitely on the windward side, in terms of our homeless population, we are lacking services" said State Senator Jill Tokuda.
She was born and raised in Kaneohe, and has seen the numbers increase.
"From last year to this year you have seen more than double the number of homeless identified on the windward side, and that's significant" she continued.
Tokuda said there is no easy answer to the problem. She noted that several town-side providers come over to Kailua to offer services, but that often the homeless are unwilling to leave the familiarity of their community.
Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson, reached by phone, said he hopes Mayor Kirk Caldwell portions some of the money allotted for the Housing First program to windward communities.
As for the homeless man Mike, he said he will stay at Kailua Beach Park for as long as he can while he continues to mend. His request to the mayor was a simple one:
"To get places we can go to and be safe..that's all..."