More city sidewalks cleared

Published On: Jul 05 2013 06:39:16 PM HST
Pawa'a In-Ha Park 07_05_13 Bill 7 Raid

Personal belongings are removed from the sidewalk near Pawa'a In-Ha Park on South King Street.


After a brief period of evaluation, the city began a second day of enforcement of the city's new sidewalk nuisance law, which doesn't require 24-hour notice before items can be confiscated or destroyed.

A crew with the Department of Facility Maintenance targeted sidewalks near Aala Park in downtown Honolulu, and Pawa'a In-Ha Park in Pawa'a Friday.

Amelia Laeulo, who has been homeless for the past eight years, said she would be forced to start over after most of her belongings were destroyed in the Pawa'a raid.

"I have nobody here for me, so it makes it a lot harder," said the 23-year-old. "I don't have my mom or dad, brothers or sisters; just me and my family on the streets."

On Monday, city workers cleared sidewalks at three sites: Old Stadium Park, Moili'ili Neighborhood Park and the Ala Wai Canal promenade near the Hawaii Convention Center.    

Earlier this week, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said items were being destroyed only if the owners agreed, otherwise, property would be stored for 30 days. However, under the new ordinance, getting property back requires a $200 fee.

"It's messed up," said Laeulo. "How are you going to take from the struggling? We have to start all over again."  

In each of the five raids since enforcement of Bill 7 began, representatives from the Institute of Human Services have been on hand to discuss options with those in need of shelter.

"We want to ensure that we can provide services for our homeless individuals who are on the street, and at this point we are," said Jun Yang, the city's housing director. "It's a matter of people accepting the help that's out there, and it's a bit of a challenge."

According to officials at IHS, 100 beds are available at its men's shelter in Iwilei, and openings are usually available at its women's shelter. Although the city is encouraging the homeless to go there, Caldwell hopes for a more permanent solution through a housing-first program, which provides shelter upfront and counseling services later on.   

"Right now, the city council seems to be very supportive of the housing-first initiatives that we're trying to create," said Yang. "There are a few policy points that we need to move so that we can actually get the funding to do this."

The city hopes to provide scattered housing for 25 chronically homeless people by the end of 2014 as part of a housing-first demonstration project. The second phase of the demonstration project will place an additional 50 persons into housing during 2015, provided funding is available.


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