HONOLULU (KHON2) — A growing homeless encampment by the Hawaii State Library is raising concerns with library users and nearby residents. They’re calling on the state to do a better job in cleaning the area.
Regular library users and workers said the number of homeless people in the walkway between the State Library and Iolani Palace has doubled in the last couple of months.
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“It’s ungodly to see people on the streets like this, not because they’re on the streets because it’s a health issue for not only them, but for us,” said Ernest Caravalho, Downtown Neighborhood Board chair.
They’re noticing more of the homeless inside also.
“I notice a lot more homeless people in there but it’s a public library so I guess they’re welcome to be there,” said David Inafuku, library user.
“I am a little surprised at the amount of people that we have around the homeless, especially — I’m very surprised. I wish there was an immediate solution,” said Naomi Somera, library user.
Those that KHON2 spoke with said they know there are no easy solutions but they also point out that for this location, there should be more urgency in fixing the problem.
“This cannot go on anymore. This is right in front of Iolani Palace, which is to me sacred,” said Caravalho. “All my life growing up as a kid, Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace are places that I would come to relax.”
Safety is another concern going in and out of the library and while they’re inside.
“Usually before I come every day, but now,” said Kana Pham, library user.
“Not anymore? Only when you have to?” KHON2 asked.
“Yeah,” Pham said.
“There is a book here that I wanted and I am impatient. I don’t wanna wait to send it to another library so I’m still willing to come,” explained another library user Heather Silvernail. “I just walk through the grass instead of the sidewalk though.”
The State Library has had problems with the homeless over the years, which include people bathing themselves in the restroom, and staff getting harassed inside and outside the building.
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The state librarian declined to comment. KHON2 also reached out to the state homeless coordinator and he didn’t respond.