In Central Oahu, a worsening homeless problem prompts a call for new solutions

Residents from Mililani, Wahiawa and the North Shore expressed frustration to city and state leaders including the governor's coordinator on homelessness.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 8:56 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 11:42 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Central Oahu residents pressed lawmakers and advocates for answers Monday at a town hall meeting over the area’s worsening homeless problem.

Homeless outreach provide Achieve Zero organized the meeting.

Residents from Mililani, Wahiawa and the North Shore expressed frustration about the homeless situation to city and state leaders, including the governor’s coordinator on homelessness.

Some residents who offer a lending hand to house houseless said there’s a disconnect between the community and the government. “Why haven’t you reached out?” said Theresa Kuehi, of Mililani.

“There are so many public partnerships, but not at the ground level, where it’s really needed.”

Oahu currently has four Ohana Zone Housing and Navigation projects for the chronically homeless, homeless seniors and domestic violence survivors.

Statistics from Partners in Care show Hawaii has made progress getting families off the streets. But everyone agrees the high cost of housing stands in the way.

“That’s the reason you get the homeless, they no can pay their rent, what you going to do?” said Wilson Nahoopii, of Wahiawa.

State Rep. Amy Perruso said her office wants to revive the public discussion about rent control and property speculation.

“We are seeing so many of our community members being evicted, and they call our office,” said Perruso. “And we’re really in a position where it’s hard to help because renters don’t have any power in this state and we don’t have laws that protect them.”

Tina Grandinetti, of Central Oahu, said new solutions are possible.

“So like in California, lots of cities and municipalities have rent regulations, eviction protections,” she said.

“And then also they have statewide rent regulations or anti-rent gouging measures, and the kind of like overlap to provide varying levels of protection for renters.”

“We’re open to that,” said Trish La Chica, director of the city’s Office of Housing.

:I think it’s if it’s something that if it’s allowable, if it’s something that can be passed at the county because it’s passed in other municipalities. We can have that conversation,” she said.

A point-in-time count in March, found 165 unsheltered homeless people from Wahiawa to the North Shore.

If you’re looking for assistance or to report a concern, contact the state homeless help line at (808) 586-0193.

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