Chinatown businesses feel ‘sense of normalcy’ after homeless meal operations relocate

Tea Hut manager Michael Wu said he would normally see sidewalks occupied by homeless people when he closes the shop.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 10:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Chinatown businesses said they see a difference in the homeless population after a non-profit relocated its daily homeless meal operations.

They said it brings a sense of normalcy again.

Tea Hut manager Michael Wu said he would normally see sidewalks occupied by homeless people when he closes the shop.

But since River of Live stopped serving meals in Chinatown over two months ago, Wu said he hardly sees people laying on the floor.

“It helped a lot,” said Wu.

Meanwhile, pharmacist Brian Quan who works on Hotel Street said while the evenings are quieter, it’s a different story in the mornings.

“Sometimes, in the morning when they are occupying the sidewalk, from time to time, I have to call the Honolulu Police Department to vacate them,” said Quan.

In April, Mayor Blangiardi and his cabinet walked through Chinatown to keep the momentum going on their revitalization project.

“We’re going to look for those areas where we can really have high impact” said Blangiardi.

On Tuesday, Blangiardi presented his action plan before the Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board.

The proposal includes improving walkways, the park’s lighting, increasing law enforcement presence, and checking in with the city’s Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement.

Addressing mental health is another priority for many community members.

“There are a lot of assaults happening because we are still having to deal with the hardcore drug addiction and mental illness combined,” said Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock of the Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board.

“No matter what we do, we’re going to have a presence of homeless people in Chinatown, but with a program called CORE, it is beginning to help.”

Anyone in need of services is encouraged to call the Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement program at (808) 768-2673.

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