Hawaii Poll: Rating Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell & his approach to tackling homelessness

Hawaii Poll: Rating Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell & his approach to tackling homelessness
Updated: Feb. 2, 2015 at 11:45 PM HST
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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - From paving pot holes to showing his support for bicycling commuters and picking-up trash, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell appears to be everywhere, and that face time with the community has translated into a favorability rating of 64% -- according to our Hawai'i News Now - Star Advertiser poll.

"I have four years to make a difference in our community and I don't want to waste one minute, one hour, one day -- not trying things -- move the needle. As I say to our cabinet every week, let's make this a better place -- even if there are things that are controversial. Rail is a highly controversial project, yet I think it's something we need to do to live better on this island and address one of the worst traffic problems in the United States," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

According to respondents, rail and traffic rank as the top two biggest concerns facing O'ahu residents, and rounding out the top three -- homelessness. Caldwell's administration has tackled the issue aggressively over the past year -- with laws like the the city's sidewalk nuisance and stored property ordinances, which officials say aim to keep the county's streets safe and sanitary through "compassionate disruption".

"When I got elected I sat down with all the providers who provide shelter space and they told me, 'Kirk, if you allow people and make it easy for them to sleep on the streets and sidewalks and our parks then they will continue to do so and we want them to move into our shelters where we can treat them and help them get back on their feet and so you have to make it harder so they can get the help,' and so I adopted that approach," said Caldwell.

The mayor readily admits one of the most contentious initiatives is the city's sit-lie law, but according to our Hawai'i poll -- a clear majority at 73% approve of the city policy to discourage homelessness by not allowing unsheltered homeless to lie or sleep on public property such as city sidewalks or parks.

The support surprised not just the Mayor, but officials with the Institute of Human Services -- even though they say the bill has made a positive impact since it rolled out two months ago.

"IHS has been able to actually intake 63 homeless individuals from Waikiki, a majority of them were actually homeless 10 plus years, the reason why we're finding these types of individuals is because the compassionate disruption type of approach is actually affecting their thinking so they are now looking at new choices," explained Kimo Carvalho, the Community Engagement Director at IHS.

Caldwell says he will continue to push and pass initiatives he believes improve living conditions for everyone throughout the city and county of O'ahu. Two years into his term -- the mayor's job performance is polling at a 70% approval rating.

Ward Research interviewed 403 O'ahu residents from January 13 to 23 for the Hawai'i Poll. The poll's margin of error is 4.9%.

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