By: Rick Blangiardi
Recently, we took on the issue of Hawaii's homeless in the segment and we got quite a bit of response.
I called on the governor to declare a state of emergency and the reaction was basically, "what do you expect the governor to do? What do you expect government in general to do at all?"
Well, at least one elected official is not only calling attention to the problem but laying out a plan.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell said, in a Star-Advertiser editorial, that homelessness is a crisis, which is true. And even more to the point, he said we cannot let homelessness ruin our economy and take over the city. I couldn't agree more.
Recently, in talking to the mayor, he told me that Honolulu is ranked first in the number of homeless people among cities of a comparable size. I asked him to repeat that statement. It is true, and it is sad.
But unlike others who haven't really come up with solutions, Caldwell talked about moving 11 tons of items from the homeless from our sidewalks and parks every week.
He is working to get more restrooms opened in Waikiki and to clear the sidewalks there. A proposal to increase hotel and property taxes on resorts could help with moving out the homeless.
He wants better laws to keep people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks and fines for those are using the public places as their bathroom. And he is trying to get the homeless into permanent housing, called housing first.
Caldwell calls it "compassionate disruption" in getting our island back to normal and now, with the city council's help, he is finally securing some money to find that housing.
So I guess there is something government can do. Meanwhile, we are still waiting to hear from the governor about what his plan might be.
So, if the city council can step forward to assist our mayor, then we sincerely hope the elected officials at the state level will do the same to help governor Abercrombie.