Opponents protest against sit-lie expansion bill

Homeless in Hawaii: Message for the Mayor

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A homeless mother took a stand against the sit-lie bill at Honolulu Hale on behalf of families like hers.

3-year old Thalia Martin looked on as her mother Tabatha read a letter addressed to Mayor Kirk Caldwell asking him to veto Bill 48. The bill would outlaw sitting or lying on sidewalks in 13 areas, outside of Waikiki.

Martin said, "It will result in a costly game of cat and mouse between the City and the homeless people."

Backed by homeless advocates, Martin dropped off a petition with nearly 12-hundred signatures to the Mayor's office.

She also presented a study from UC Berkeley that says the sit-lie bill does not work.

"Kakaako is what we call home" said Martin. She's lived on the streets ever since her husband Tracy had a heart attack and lost his job. She added, "We lost the only way we had to pay for rent you know. We ended up getting evicted. Slowly but surely everything started going downhill for us and it could happen to anybody."

The Martins say the Mayor's push for Housing first is the right approach for helping Hawaii's homeless community of more than 7,000 versus sweeps that take away everything they own.

Martin said, "One month they took all her toys. It was so sad. She would say where's my toys mommy? What was I supposed to tell her. Every since then, she does not like rubbish trucks."

"In the Streets" Community Organizer Raina Whiting works with homeless families in Kakaako. Whiting said, "We come in and give them things taken away in a raid. Like toothbrushes, shampoo, soap and bedding."

Whiting says pushing homeless people off sidewalks and benches just shifts the problem. In her words, "Bill 48 is going to continue to affect these families when we're not providing additional services for them. They're just going to go to a different area."

The Mayor says he understands those concerns-- and wants to get homeless people into housing and offer services. But, he must also address complaints from businesses.

Mayor Caldwell has said he'll sign the sit-lie expansion bill into law by the December 2nd deadline if it gets the okay from the City's legal team.

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