I previously reported that City Department of Facility Maintenance’s Stored Property Ordinance (SPO) Team and HPD initiated the clearing of homeless encampments on Coral Street between late November and early December. State enforcement had also cleared the Kakaako Gateway Parks and the Forrest Avenue entrance to Next Step Shelter earlier in October and early November.
However, these ongoing clearance actions tend only to shift homeless individuals back and forth between various parks and roadways without resolving homeless housing and services needs. My state and city legislative colleagues and I are therefore taking the following steps to develop long-term solutions:
- Met with new Honolulu Police Department Chief Ballard and her leadership team to discuss her priorities for tackling homeless encampments: expanding the “Project HELP” outreach efforts of District 1’s Community Policing team and Institute for Human Services and Kalihi-Palama Health Center;
- Establishing neighborhood medical clinics/sites that ‘Project HELP’ teams can use in redirecting homeless individuals out of crowded emergency rooms and ambulance services; and
- Increasing HPD’s police presence in Downtown-Chinatown neighborhoods through new recruits and additional personnel.
We are also seeking new locations for the City’s relaxed-requirements Navigation Center housing alternatives in the Ala Moana-Kakaako area, and working actively with John A. Burns School of Medicine, Children’s Discovery Center and Japan America Society of Hawaii (JASH) to improve conditions for Kakaako neighbors and tenants.
This spring, we anticipate the opening of the City-State Kuwili Street Hygiene Center, based on Seattle’s “Urban Rest Stop” model for showers, restrooms and a laundry center to assist homeless clients. The Hygiene Center will also house the “H-4” medical triage partnership between Queens Healthcare Systems, HMSA and a variety of medical specialists who will offer medical services to homeless clients that are diverted from busy hospital emergency rooms, HPD and City Department of Emergency Services transports (Go here for distributed materials).