Lawmakers propose sit-lie ban for state land - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmakers propose sit-lie ban for state land

State Rep. Isaac Choy State Rep. Isaac Choy
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Kathryn Xian Kathryn Xian

There are several state-owned properties where homeless enforcement actions are rare.

And some lawmakers are trying to change that.

They're considering a bill that would make it illegal to sit or lie on state property, similar to a city ordinance that does the same.

Under the state proposal, tents, blankets, towels, sleeping bags and chairs, along with any form of camping, would be illegal.

Encampments like the ones at Waianae Boat Harbor and the Mauka Gateway Park could potentially be swept without notice, under the proposal.

"What I'm trying to do is clear up the confusion," said the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Isaac Choy.

Choy said the bill is aimed at closing existing loopholes.

"It doesn't matter who does the sweeps," he said. "But when they do the sweeps they just going to a particular area and get the job done without question of whether it's city or state land."

Kathryn Xian, executive director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery and a homeless advocate, said another measure aimed at moving the homeless from place to place won't solve anything.

"If the city and the state were on the same page that always would make things more streamlined. But the question is, would that create a bully system of the government against the impoverished?" Xian said.

"Regardless of whether or not we ban the existence of houseless people on state property, that problem will not go away. That's what policy makers are not understanding. We need to be able to provide a safe place for these people to live and get back on their feet, not further criminalize them."

Xian said instead of focusing on sit-lie measures, the state Legislature needs to invest more in funding permanent affordable housing.

"We need to either double or triple the funding for Housing First on the state program and expand the definition of chronically homeless to families with children, and seniors and disabled," Xian said.

The sit-lie bill has been referred to two committees in the house. It's unclear whether or not it has the support to pass.

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