Honolulu enforces expansion of sit-lie ban, moving scores of homeless out
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After years of complaints, city crews dismantled two of the most volatile homeless camps on Oahu on Tuesday as they enforced the expansion of Honolulu's controversial sit-lie ban.
Business owners in Kapalama and Iwilei say the encampments were havens for drugs and violence.
As tents came down, tensions began to rise. Security footage shows a man pushing an officer on Kaumualii Street. Five police officers then piled on top of him during the takedown.
HPD confirms he was arrested for harassment and outstanding warrants.
A woman who identified herself as Roxanne was among those who moved out on Tuesday,
"I'll tell you the truth shelter ain't the answer," she said.
It's estimated 120 people were living in both neighborhoods combined. Since Thursday, only four have gone into shelter.
"Right now everyone is trying to figure out where they to relocate," Roxanne said.
Hawaii News Now asked the city what it's doing to keep the people who are being scattered by the sweeps from moving into new neighborhoods.
The director of the Mayor's Housing Office says Housing First is the solution. That entails getting the homeless into a place of their own and working on their problems once they have a roof over their head.
"We know the people who are service resistant we need to continue to outreach. But what they're looking for is not shelter or some temporary solution. They're looking for housing," said Marc Alexander.
But making that happen is easier said than done. The city needs 1,800 permanent supportive units. Alexander says right now they have 1,100 units.
"We need more landlords and we need additional funding," said Alexander.
While the state's largest homeless service provider agrees housing first is necessary a spokesman says this population needs drug treatment first.
"We've offered them shelter, housing options, healthcare services. Basically anything to end their homelessness and they're still resisting. What they really need is some serious clinical intervention while they're on the streets now," said Kimo Carvalho.
The community also plays a part in ending homelessness. Alexander says many times people who are trying to help end up enabling people living on the street.
"We need people to stop giving food and tents and things like that," said Alexander.
He added if you want to donate -- give to service providers instead.
Since enforcement began, Hawaii News Now has noticed an increase of tents at Aala Park and over by the Dole Cannery.
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