Talks continued Wednesday as the Hawaii Community Development Authority held an open discussion on the growing homeless problem in Kakaako.
No decisions were made on what can be done. The meeting was mainly to hear from landholders in the area on what they are dealing with.
Problems brought up by the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center include vandalism, public defecation and safety concerns.
“People want us to guarantee the safety of their children if they come to the center and how can we guarantee their safety?” said Loretta Yajima, chair of the Children’s Discovery Center’s board of directors. “We’ve even had people say they aren’t coming back unless we have security to stand there, to accompany us to and from our cars, so I think it’s a huge issue.
“We have children out there doing art in the park. They were doing art activities and (some) boys took down their pants and urinated right in front of the center on the street,” she added. “It just breaks my heart to have the children see this. Even walking from the parking lot to the center, the yelling and the fighting and all kinds of activities that happen in the tents make them frightened.”
As far as the homeless population, area businesses all said their numbers continue to grow each day.
Tabatha Martin, who is homeless, says she has a job but can’t afford a place to live with her family because prices are so high.
“I work part-time, but it’s not enough to get us off the street. I live with my husband and my daughter and it’s hard enough to live on the streets with what little money we have, so I mean, before anyone judges, they should really expand their minds to really see what the homeless people go through,” she said. “We’re not all lazy. We’re not all drug-addicted. We’re not all mentally ill. Yeah, there are a few bad seeds, (but) so does the general public. They have bad seeds all over their neighborhoods.”
Martin says she hopes city and state officials can figure out a quick solution.
HCDA’s meeting comes one day after Honolulu City Council chairman Ernie Martin and Gov. David Ige met to try to come up with a plan to move homeless out of the area.
After the meeting, Martin said they identified a couple of potential locations, but only as an interim measure and he would not specify where.
“From the state’s perspective, they’re looking at various alternatives, including potential sites that we can use to accommodate some of the people at Kakaako,” he said.
Martin said the long-term solution is to get people into shelters or provide more affordable housing.