Some homeless return after Honolulu sidewalk sweep
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of homeless campers are off of Honolulu's sidewalks and on the move. The city used a new law to seize their belongings without warning in Waikiki and Moiliili on Monday morning. Many of the homeless still have their tents and shopping carts nearby, but Honolulu's mayor said crews will go back repeatedly and also move to different locations.
One tent is already back on a sidewalk along Old Stadium Park after a cleanup by city crews. Francis Scheffner used to live on the streets, but he recently moved into an apartment.
"Where do you expect them to go? They're just going to go to another corner," said Scheffner.
Crews also cleared out sidewalks at Moiliili Neighborhood Park and a lot used by Reynolds Recycling near the former Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki, but some of the homeless didn't go very far.
"We went to places where we received a lot of complaints. The place we received the most complaints is at the entrance to Waikiki. Residents and workers who drive into Waikiki complain all the time," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The new law allows the city to seize personal belongings on sidewalks without providing notice. The owners have 30 days to retrieve their items in exchange for a $200 fine. Authorities said many chose to have their belongings destroyed instead of paying the fine.
"They don't really care about us. They just push us to the next curb, to the next law or amendment or whatever and find some way -- like cockroaches -- just to sweep us out," said a homeless man named Marcelo Bitanga.
Homeless service providers were on hand to offer shelter, but most of those forced to move decided to stay on the streets.
"I think most people just try to find another place that they can camp for the night, but I think it makes it very difficult when you have to move repeatedly," said Connie Mitchell, executive director for the Institute for Human Services.
Members of a new homeless assistance working group met for the first time at the State Capitol on Monday night. They're looking for long-term solutions to this complex problem.
"It's a grassroots effort to really try to find new places for people to be housed permanently or temporarily, but really to help people get back on their feet," said Mitchell.
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