Growing homeless problem hindering Chinatown's growth

Published On: May 13 2014 06:52:35 PM HST   Updated On: May 13 2014 08:00:34 PM HST

The number of homeless on Oahu continues to rise, according to a recent city report.

Click here to watch Ashley Moser's story.

The growing issue is hindering growth in Chinatown.

"They on every street. They got river street. They got 15 down there," said Alfred Halley of Sweet Memory Chocolate.

Homeless dot the streets of Chinatown. On North Hotel Street, merchants deal with them every day.

"I think it's pretty bad," said Halley.

It's getting even worse. The city's latest ''Point in Time Count" includes a one-day count of sheltered homeless and seven-day count of unsheltered homeless on Oahu.

The number for 2014 is a total of 4,700. That's up 30 percent.

"It's actually a cat and mouse. It goes on, the same population. Increase population of homeless people, but we don't have solutions," said Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock of the Chinatown Business & Communty Association.

Community leaders say the homeless sleep on the street at night and during the day they move to a private area like the park on Smith Street and Beretania Street so that the public doesn't really see the issue.

"Very few people feel like they can do anything about it. They kind of give up because they say with all the smart people elected in office, if they can't solve it, who am I to solve it?" said Shubert-Kwock.

They say they know the problem can't be solved overnight, but some are pressuring city officials to help with solutions.

"We really want to help the city and state to really get housing, you know, ready for these folks," said Shubert-Kwock.

They say the image of this historic area is also in jeopardy.

"Visitors from China, a lot now say, 'I can't believe this is happening to your Chinatown. This is horrible,'" said Shubert-Kwock.

The Chinatown Business and Community Association will continue to pressure the City to install public bathrooms to keep the homeless from using the street.

Which states have the highest homeless populations?

Click here to find out where Hawaii sits among states with the highest homeless population.


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