Thursday, February 25, 2010

Homeless In Kaneohe

The Kaneohe Neighborhood Board at several recent meetings has heard testimony concerning homeless people living in the brush along Kaneohe Stream makai of the Kaneohe Stream Bridge on Kamehameha Hwy.  Concerns include trash and sanitation plus occasional disruptive behavior.


Anonymous said...

You may have read the story about the community cleanup going on in Makaha. If not, here is a link to the article.

A similar effort may soon be needed in order to cleanup the growing accumulation of rubbish on the City-owned property located in back of the Kaneohe Civic Center and new parking lot.  See, attached map. 

I have previously suggested that this parcel, which appears to be landlocked, be used for a community gardens site or put to some other public use.  Putting the land to productive use would not only serve a public purpose but also help prevent the accumulation of trash from the growing homeless community living there. I should also point out that the site is not suitable for human habitation i.e. homeless encampment due to the lack of sanitary facilities in the area.      

I am suggesting that the City be more proactive in trying to prevent this growing problem from becoming a major issue in our community.   

I would appreciate your input and ideas on how this City owned property can be put to good use and prevent this situation from growing into a major problem.
Roy Yanagihara
Kaneohe Neighborhood Board

Bill Sager said...

The property extends along Kaneohe Stream all the way to Puohala Rd.  first step is to know the property ownerships.  can the city find that out for us?  By the way, the area is accessable by an over grown road through a locked gate at the end of Puohala Road

Dream a little.  wouldn't it be nice if the haole koa was removed, the area landscaped into a park along the stream  to include community garden, paths and picnic facilities.  They did it in Kahaluu along the Bay.  We could do it by the library.  We could even use some of our unused budget to buy native plants for the landscaping.  A big job that will require lots of volunteers.  Ahu Malama I ka Lokahi did it at Napohaku O Hawahine and Ulupoe Heiau.  We can do it in Kaneohe.  Public access to the area will be practical once the parking lot is completed.  

If the city council passes an ordinance prohibiting tents in parks and provided the law is enforced, we should be able to resolve the problem.  At the very least, campers would be visible and visibility discourages abuse.  

Bill Sager, Member, Kaneohe Neighborhood Board.

Anonymous said...

Where would the current "residents" go? Is there some other community that will willingly accept them? Don't we need to consider that consequence? How does it help to simply chase them around from location to location?

Maybe it would be better to provide rubbish containers and sanitary facilities to an established homeless encampment rather than just chasing them off to another location. Otherwise the problem simply reappears in someone else's back yard. 

Seems to me it would be preferable to determine an optimal location for such an encampment and treat it as a permanent--if unwelcome--part of the larger community. As someone (?) has said: "The homeless will be with us always." We need to deal with them.

John Flanigan, Member, Kaneohe Neighborhood Board.

Anonymous said...

Our board has previously received testimony that there may be as many as 35 people living in that area. We also heard testimony that social services outreach workers contacted those who would talk to them and that assistance was offered but those there refused. The main reason given for not wanting to go to shelters were the rules that they would be required to obey. I.e. no alcohol, no drugs, no wild parties, etc.  We have already heard that residents living near to or adjoining the properties in question have complained about the noise and litter.  I forwarded to you all email from Rep. Pono Chong's office making inquiries on behalf of concerned citizens.  My first email today on this subject was inspired by my reading of an article in today's newspaper regarding citizens who were trying clean up a homeless encampment in Maili. That area has been designated the "wild west" by residents. See,  Are we seeing the makings of our own little "Wild West" in Kaneohe and is this what we want in our community? 
As I have said, these people have been offered alternatives. They have refused to accept the offer of assistance because they would have to follow rules. These rules are basically same ones each of us must follow and obey in order to remain members of our community. Respecting one's individuality is one thing but we need to draw a line where the right of a person to express his or her individuality adversely affects the rights of others to enjoy their quality life or puts them or their families in fear for their safety or security. If the people living in the encampment are homeless because there are no alternatives for them then they deserve compassion but since they have been offered alternative housing and refused it. Moreover they are living on land that does not belong to them and have no rights to live there in the first instance.  Since they have been offered alternatives and do not have any rights to be where they are why should we feel obligated to provide services, that we as taxpayers must ultimately pay for?  As I see it, if they want hot and cold running water, garbage collection and medical services they should move into facilities that have been built for them. If they choose not to do so then they should find a place where they can express their individuality and not become a burden on the other members of society who must then foot the bill.  

Roy Yanagihara, Chair, Kaneohe Neighborhood Board

Anonymous said...

I agree with almost everything you say. But you didn't finish: "If they choose not to do so then they should find a place where they can express their individuality ..." So where would such a place be? 

No matter how we evaluate their culpability, simply wishing them away doesn't work very well. They always seem to turn up somewhere else. Providing a "least bad" location, minimal services (not hot and cold running water), and a certain amount of oversight to minimize the botherment, might be the lesser of evils.

Too bad there isn't room for them at HSH (but that would be really expensive).

John Flanigan, Member, Kaneohe Neighborhood Board

Bill Sager said...

The Mayor's March News Letter has a good summary of what he is trying to do to address the homeless problem.