Quiet, comfortable and open to everyone, public libraries have become a haven for the homeless.
KHON2 first brought you this story last May. Homeless people were sleeping on the tables, making a mess in the bathrooms and hogging the computers.
Library officials said they had ideas to make it better, so we wanted to know if things have improved.
We visited the state’s main library downtown and the McCully branch. We’ve learned that while the situation has improved in some areas, it has gotten worse in others.
“I would say things are going pretty well. We feel the situation has somewhat improved,” says Hawaii State Library director Diane Eddy.
Eddy says sheriffs have done a good job of clearing the homeless outside. New signs were just posted that seem to be working.
But inside, the same problems persist. There are still complaints about the homeless hogging the computers and sleeping.
In the bathrooms, Eddy says “we have sandman who likes to pour sand into the sink and the urinals and we have people who just enjoy making a mess.”
Eddy says she’s not sure if it’s the homeless who are making a mess in the bathrooms.
She also can’t stop people from sleeping and there is a one-hour time limit for the computers. But if no one is waiting, people can stay on longer.
Some library users are more bothered by it than others.
“It’s kind of gross,” said library user Nicole Daoang, “because they’re dirty.”
“I think it’s nice that they like to read also and gain the knowledge from the library,” said library user Adrienne Vanagas.
At the McCully branch, KHON2 was told that most of the problems are happening outside, when the library’s closed.
There is a sign telling people to keep out, but the homeless still stay there overnight.
“We notice a lot more litter and trash and also waste, you know, human waste,” said McCully branch manager Hillary Chang.
Chang says twice as many homeless have been camping outside in the past couple of months. “To tell you the truth, we do call HPD a lot,” she said.
A new state librarian, Stacey Aldrich, is supposed to take over in April. KHON2 was unable to reach her for this story.