In early January, Senator Karl Rhoads, Representative Daniel Holt, and I met with HPD Chief Susan Ballard and her leadership team to tackle complaints that we have received about illegal and disruptive behavior throughout Downtown-Chinatown (see attached listing). They involve purse snatchings, thefts from vehicles, assaults, disorderly and unsanitary behavior by homeless individuals on sidewalks, in parks and malls, as well as areas like Union Mall, Fort Street Mall and River Street.
We’ve expressed our strong support for Chief Ballard’s priority initiatives, and are awaiting her cost estimates to identify opportunities for increased city-state appropriations. She has committed to:
- Re-establish HPD’s Juvenile Services Division to redirect problem youth from illegal activities (e.g., shoplifting, theft, drug-dealing in the neighborhood) into programs that provide a supervised pathway to athletic, recreational and educational activities.
- Increase the number of Community Policing Teams (CPT) officers who work directly with homeless outreach providers (e.g., Project HELP and LEAD) to encourage chronic homeless individuals to accept services and housing.
- Increase the number of officers patrolling Downtown- Chinatown. HPD is initiating a policy change which will increase mandatory minimum staffing for patrol units by 15%.
At the same time, we’re investigating complaints that many of the homeless individuals in Downtown- Chinatown neighborhoods may be transplants from other states who have been able to transfer their Section 8 benefits from their home states to Hawaii, and to access more homeless benefits than are available in their home states.
The City’s opening of the long-awaited Hygiene Center on Kuwili Street in Iwilei this spring will finally implement the comprehensive cluster-of-services that the City Council has funded since 2013. The city-state properties along Iwilei Street will support the Kuwili Street hygiene center, H4-medical triage clinic (with short-term housing in the facility), as well as provide permanent supportive housing and employment retraining opportunities for this difficult-to-serve population. Go here for circulated materials.