City sweeps cause small bump in sheltered homeless
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city began enforcing its Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance early in July.
As for the homeless affected by the sweeps, operators of homeless shelters have seen a small bump in the number of homeless seeking help.
"They're not coming in great droves but they are trickling in," said Marc Alexander of the Institute for Human Services.
"We have seen an increase in numbers at the beginning of the month, which is unusual," Safe Haven director Pamela Menter said.
So far the city has cleared about two dozen homeless encampments, mainly in Waikiki, downtown and Kakaako.
The Next Step shelter in Kakaako has openings for more homeless in spite of the sweeps.
"I'm disappointed but not surprised," Sheila Beckham said.
Beckham is CEO of Waikiki Health, the organization that operates Next Step. She knew clearing sidewalks wouldn't motivate most homeless to go into a shelter.
"Many of them are so used to being out on the streets," she said. "I don't think that it's a big huge incentive."
Alexander said IHS's men's and women's shelters still have spaces open for singles and some families.
"It can be tight, but we can get a family off the streets, in the shelter, within two to three days max, normally," he said.
The homeless service providers who spoke with Hawaii News Now have different opinions on the city's sweeps, but not on the people affected.
"UItimately, what our hope is is that they trust us and what we're here to do, which is to help them move forward in their life," Menter said.
The city will clear stored property from sidewalks at seven more homeless sites Tuesday, beginning at 2:30 a.m.
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