Homeless say new laws won't force them from Waikiki
WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - "This is the golden goose for them," says Fabio Osorio, who has called the streets of Waikiki home for five years.
Osorio says three bills, signed into law Tuesday, won't change the homeless situation in Hawaii's tourist mecca.
"Where are we going to go?" He asks, "This is like sweeping poverty under the rug, you know. To make everything nice and presentable for people with money."
The bills are aimed at getting the homeless off the streets of the commercial district in Waikiki and into shelters.
Bill 42, otherwise known as the Sit-Lie Bill, prohibits sitting or lying in the area between the Ala Wai Canal and Kapahulu Avenue.
Bills 43 and 46, make it illegal to urinate or defecate in accessible parts of Waikiki and throughout Oahu.
Homeless people complained that they had no restrooms during the overnight hours, so the city is now keeping the bathrooms next to the police substation open, 24 hours a day.
"They're picking on us, and it's short term fixes," says Rochelle Baltazar, who was homeless for two years before getting into a shelter. She says the shelter kicks her out during the day and she chooses to spend that time in Waikiki.
"You can add all the bills you want, its still not going (to) solve the problem," says another homeless man known as 'Uncle' Kapua.
"I prefer to sleep under the stars. I'm a human being, since when is being poor and sleeping under the stars criminal?" says Osorio.
But the Waikiki Business Association says homelessness is a huge concern for Hawaii's most important industry.
"It's the number one source of complaints from our guests," says Rick Egged, "Not a day goes by that we don't get a concern."
Right now, Honolulu Police are issuing warnings, but those who ignore the warnings could be cited or arrested.
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