Honolulu ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to dealing with the homeless, that’s according to a new national report.
The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty said Honolulu is in the business of criminalizing homelessness and has earned a place in its “hall of shame” for bad policies.
The report criticized the city’s sit lie ban, an ordinance that prohibits people from sitting or lying on sidewalks.
It’s in place in a number of neighborhoods, including Waikiki where officials have handed out 16,000 warnings to violators since 2014.
City councilman Joey Manahan is thinking about expanding the controversial ordinance and he’s looking at Iwilei where a tent city is rapidly growing.
“It really is a last resort for us because we really have no other means to be able to address this issue. There’s reports of drug use prostitution and those type of activities around these camps, unfortunately,” said Councilman Joey Manahan.
Manahan says each week outreach workers try to get people to check in to shelters here. Area businesses tell KITV their primary concern is safety.
“My assumption is the street is for driving on or riding on but I’m seeing pedestrians in the middle of the street because they cannot access the sidewalks,” said Philip Richardson, owner of Current Affairs.
Residents at a nearby senior living condominium are fed up with filthy conditions accumulating in the area.
“They throw their trash, they let their dogs run, they don’t clean up after themselves. They urinate, defecate…the smells horrible. We have a lot of people in this building that have immune problems cause they’re older,” said resident Larry Brown.
In June, the city acquired a four-story building in Iwilei to convert into a drop-in center equipped with housing and homeless services.
It’s set to open late 2017.