CHINATOWN (HawaiiNewsNow) - Over the past few months, homeless outreach workers say they've noticed some new younger, faces among those who live on the streets in Chinatown.
The majority are strung out on drugs.
And while meth and heroin still dominate the area, a spokesman for the state's largest homeless service provider says there's been a re-emergence of a drug last popular in the 1980s.
"Crack cocaine is not something we really see too often across encampments throughout Oahu. This is really unique and individualized to Chinatown," said Kimo Carvalho.
Carvalho said many of these new arrivals are on the streets because of issues at home.
They wound up banding together -- using and dealing drugs, he said.
While police say they're not aware of an increase in crack cocaine use, service providers are concerned the popularity of crack could quickly grow.
"Because once we see more drug use and different types of drugs we start to see different types of problems," Carvalho said.
The issue also has Chinatown residents and business owners fearing for their safety.
"I think it's completely drug driven because mentally ill people are not so violent," said Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, president of the Chinatown Business and Community Association Community.
She described the new arrivals — about two dozen or so — as a homeless mob that's already causing trouble for local shop owners.
"It really makes them feel powerful to band together to victimize others," Shubert-Kwock said. "They feel like they can walk right into our shops and take whatever they want and walk out."
What concerns residents the most is that anyone can be a target.
"They have groups that work in teams and they will victimize elderly seniors," she said. "They get pushed down. Their purses grabbed. This is frightening for us."