Mike Goodman, director of Hawaii Kai Homeless Task Force (image: Hawaii News Now)
HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
A map pointing out suspected homeless people in a windward Oahu neighborhood is raising concerns.
It shows 11 areas where homeless events took place in and around Hawaii Kai.
The map describes a man in the China Walls area as a "homeless meth addict whose mother has a restraining order against him," and at the Town Center, a "mentally ill homeless man frequently screams at people."
The district's State Representative Gene Ward published the map in his November newsletter, but Mike Goodman, the director of Hawaii Kai Homeless Task Force, created it.
"It wasn't about targeting the homeless or criminalizing them," Goodman said. "It wasn't about a bunch of rich people trying to throw a bunch of poor people out of their neighborhood. All we're doing is reporting crimes and criminal activity."
Not everyone agrees.
In a statement emailed to Hawaii News Now on Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii said:
Publishing a map of "reported homeless events" in public areas only serves to move us further away from addressing the causes of homelessness. Instead, it is an open invitation to further profile, dehumanize and harass those that have nowhere to go except our parks, sidewalks and shared public spaces. The Constitution protects the rights of the poor and homeless against government policies that target them unfairly or criminalize their mere existence.
"It's almost like a call to vigilante justice," said attorney Nick Kacprowski. "It's sort of like, there's a homeless person hanging out at China Walls. The police aren't doing anything about it, so go get them! As a broader policy matter, this is not the way to solve the homeless problem."
Goodman defended his actions and said the map was created to raise public awareness.
"If that's unconstitutional then the HPD crime map is unconstitutional," Goodman said. "In fact, not only is it not unconstitutional, it's constitutionally protected as first amendment speech."
The Institute for Human Services believes the map is a useful tool, especially when it comes to conducting its annual point in time count -- which will include the area of Hawaii Kai for the first time ever in January 2017.
"We're all about finding them, serving them and housing them and if we can't find them, then we can't get started," said Connie Mitchell, IHS executive director. "It really makes our job a little bit easier, a lot easier, maybe."
Hawaii News Now was not able to reach Rep. Ward for comment on Tuesday.