Kapalama Canal homeless face new enforcement efforts

Kapalama Canal homeless face new enforcement efforts

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police in Kalihi say that if they receive public complaints regarding homeless camping along Kapalama Canal during the hours of 5 a.m. and 11 p.m., that they will respond and issue 24 hour warnings to the violating campers following Wednesday's expansion of the Sit-Lie Ban to the Kapalama Canal in Kalihi.

Bill 6 prevents sitting and lying on both sides of the paved and unpaved "expanded sidewalk" areas of Kohou and Kokea Streets between Olomea and Kalani Streets.

However, officers say they are still waiting for the official guidance and directives from HPD's Command on the new enforcement areas.

The City Council voted 6-3 Wednesday to override Mayor Caldwell's veto of Bill 6 that includes new parts of Punchbowl, McCully and Aala.

Councilmember Joey Manahan said that many of his business constituents wanted him to push for passage of this legislation, regardless of any possible legal challenges the law may face, because they need immediate relief from the financial distress their businesses have suffered because of the large homeless community fronting their establishments.

Under Bill 6, Homeless campers face a petty misdemeanor citation of up to $1,000 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Thursday morning, some homeless individuals along Kapalama said they would just pack up and relocate for the daytime Sit-Lie ban hours then return to sleep there overnight.

However, the homeless also face additional enforcement of the existing Stored Property Ordinance (SPO) which allows Department of Facility Maintenance crews to confiscate items placed on public or city property, following a 24 hour warning to the property's owner.

So, if campers do decide to return to the area outside of the Sit-Lie Ban hours, they could also be displaced or disrupted by what's become known as the "SPO sweeps" conducted in various parts of the county based on public complaints of items.

So whenever enforcement efforts do begin, the homeless may choose to go back and forth during the enforcement hours, they could seek emergency shelter from a non-profit, or some may choose to relocate to the growing Kakaako encampment

that the Mayor will be free of SPO enforcement until he has more shelter/housing options available to them such as the expected opening of the City's new homeless shelter at Sand Island, Hale Mauliola.

Most of the campers along Kapalama Canal have been reached by social service providers from the non-profit, Institute for Human Services (IHS), which has been actively working to move the homeless from Kapalama into their shelters and into more permanent housing options.

Kimo Carvalho, spokesman for IHS, said just this past Sunday and Monday, 4 more families, totaling 20 people were moved from Kapalama and Kakaako into their shelter. He said 30% of the dedicated family area space at IHS is dedicated just for the families at Kapalama.

Carvalho said since January they have worked diligently to move 30 people from five large families off the canal and into housing and they're working to find shelter for more.

Carvalho says eight local families have all been moved from the canal except one woman with children who is in the process of moving out as a Housing First applicant. He said there 15 remaining families at the canal are migrants from nations that are part of the Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the United States. The three pacific nations that fall under the COFA status are the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republics of Palau and Marshall Islands.

Carvalho said 40% of those remaining COFA families at Kapalama are recent arrivals who mostly came to Hawaii to seek healthcare. He said social workers have indicated they are interested in seeking shelter and services thru Hale Mauliola when it opens, and IHS is working to find them shelter in the interim. He said the remaining 60% of the COFA families there, about 8-9 large families, wound up on the streets because they were kicked out of public housing units for either not paying their bills or violating rules.

Carvalho said, IHS case managers say there are some cultural integration barriers they are facing but working hard to encourage the adults to find employment and try to qualify for housing funds through the Section 8 or TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) to help them enter a housing facility.

Carvalho said with the passage of Bill 6, there's even more pressure on social services to find the homeless a safe place to go.

In the meantime, IHS and other organizations and governmental groups continue to provide employment and welfare support services to people at and below the Poverty Level to keep more individuals from becoming homeless in Hawaii.

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