Homeless book to Oahu library - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Homeless book to Oahu library

Hillary Chang Hillary Chang
Greg Cuadra Greg Cuadra
Keith Fujio Keith Fujio
Arnel Espirito Arnel Espirito
Ron Lockwood Ron Lockwood

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

MOILIILI (KHNL) - The state's homeless problem is spreading to an Oahu library. It's a situation workers there say has gotten worse.

People urinating in front of the library, and blocking the doors, staff members say that's what patrons have been dealing with more and more.

Police have stepped up patrols at the library, and the McCully Moiliili Neighborhood Board has a citizens patrol. But the homeless problem has grown so much, even increased security doesn't appear to work.

When the doors close and night falls, the McCully Moiliili Library becomes a haven for the homeless and a magnet for crime.

"Anywhere from vandalism to drug paraphernalia being left on our property, this is a little outside of our job description, having to clean up after the homeless," said Branch Manager Hillary Chang.

The biggest complaint from patrons is the homeless block the book return.

"People are sleeping all around there, sometimes they even have mattresses," said Chang.

Residents say what typically happens is when Old Stadium Park closes at 10 p.m. police chase them out so the homeless walk through an alley way, cross the street over to the library and camp out.

"They'll start pushing their caravan of shopping carts like the two you see behind me and they'll go from the corner of the library all the way down the sidewalk around the corner and on the other side of the street, and pretty much block the entire sidewalk," said Greg Cuadra, a neighborhood board member.

The state says it is not sure why the homeless problem has grown, not just at McCully Moiliili Library, but at all state public libraries.

"Maybe the economy going bad, maybe people losing their jobs, I really don't know what's exactly causing it, but for this particular library, I know it's increased a lot over the last several months," said Keith Fujio of the Hawaii Public Library System.

Arnel Espirito, who has made Old Stadium Park his home, gave some insight.

"For myself, I tried to apply to many places but I'm not qualified for them because I tell them I'm homeless," he said.

That's the tricky part," said Ron Lockwood, McCully Moiliili Neighborhood Board Chair.

Lockwood says the root of the problem is there aren't enough social services to help the homeless with health and housing.

The concern is, people will stop coming to the library and without patrons, the library could shut down.

Powered by Frankly