Mayor Caldwell: Feds working to help Oahu address homelessness

Honolulu mayor in Washington, DC to meet with federal leaders on Oahu's homeless issue
Published: Jan. 21, 2016 at 3:03 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2016 at 4:21 PM HST
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WASHINGTON D.C. (HawaiiNewsNow) - The federal government will help Honolulu convene a group of community leaders to help tackle homelessness among new arrivals from Micronesia, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Thursday in an interview.

Caldwell said the population are among the hardest to house.

Caldwell is in Washington, D.C. this week for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and has been meeting with federal officials about Oahu's homeless crisis.

In a live satellite interview on Hawaii News Now Sunrise, Caldwell said that Esther Kiaaina, who heads the Office of Insular Affairs, is working on creating a strategic group of leaders to ensure better housing opportunities for families who travel to Hawaii from Micronesia.

"I think that is a very good piece of news and I'm very grateful that Esther's agreed to step up and help us with this," Caldwell said.

The announcement comes as Oahu continues to struggle to address homelessness.

The city completed its last major homeless sweep in Kakaako in October 2015, with some of the homeless moving into shelters or transitional housing. Much of them, however, moved elsewhere in the Kakaako area, such as the Kakaako Waterfront Park.

"It allows us not to enforce moving people from sidewalk to park and park to sidewalk … into permanent housing and that's what I've asked for in this case, and they seem willing to step up and help us on it," Caldwell said.

Although no specific details have been relayed, Caldwell said Kiaaina is 100 percent on board to work with city and state leaders on a problem that has been growing in epic proportions.

While in Washington, Caldwell will also be meeting with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to further discuss the homeless issue as it applies to Oahu.

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