IHS says homeless panhandling hurting Waikiki outreach efforts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

IHS says homeless panhandling hurting Waikiki outreach efforts

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Institute for Human Services outreach workers are encountering more homeless people aggressively panhandling in Waikiki.

"There's anything from the simple ask for money from the tourists to the aggressive put a lei on a tourist individual and yell at them and ask them for money in such an aggressive manner that they feel forced to give," IHS Community Outreach director Kimo Carvalho said. 

Waikiki resident Spencer Williams said some days he's approached five times during a single stroll down Kalakaua Avenue.

"The majority looks like they've lived on the streets for quite a while. We reach out and we help them," he said. 

IHS Outreach Specialist Justin Phillips estimates 60 homeless people are panhandling in Waikiki in a network, complete with morning and afternoon shifts. 

"We've seen a lot of people panhandling for marijuana, cash, or alcohol," he said. "The signs say things like 'I will work for weed' or 'Will work for six-pack of beer."

Carvalho said homeless who panhandle don't seek shelter because they're making money, and that's working against the city's sit-lie law and homeless agency's outreach efforts.

"It's basically free income with no responsibility. They're very comfortable living this lifestyle," he said. 

Carvalho wants the city to pass a law making it illegal to panhandle in Waikiki.

"We need a policy that will distract that behavior, so that we can actually offer services and work with them to change their habits of behaviors," he said.

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