(Star Advertiser) Editorial: YMCA site ideal for affordable housing

(Source: Star Advertiser)

On the doorstep to Waikiki, there’s a redevelopment opportunity that went wrong, but there’s still a chance to salvage something Honolulu desperately needs: affordable housing.

The Central YMCA at 401 Atkinson Drive has been put up for sale, which means 11 employees will be out of work and residents in 115 low-cost rental units will be displaced. It’s not unexpected, but the news still came as a jolt to those most affected.

All of Honolulu will be affected to some degree, because the residents in those hostel units will be added to the roster of those searching for affordable housing, and because the city is losing a community asset for good.

The Central Y’s imminent departure signals the need for the city to leverage the development value of the 1.8-acre prime property and secure something more generally beneficial than another block of high-end, luxury condominiums or condo-hotels.

This YMCA, open to the public since 1951, included a fitness center, pool and youth program facilities as well as the housing. Those facilities, except for the apartments, closed in 2015 in preparation for redevelopment.

All this had been expected to reopen with the new complex under a deal signed in 2012, when Y officials agreed to sell 1.5 acres of the site and to use sale proceeds to finance a new YMCA on the remaining land.

The property was to have been acquired by the San Francisco-based MB Property Acquisitions LLC and Aloha Kai Development LLC, an affiliate of Tama Home Co. Ltd. of Tokyo. But Aloha Kai struggled to complete its part of the purchase and start work, and after an extension of a deadline, the parties entered into arbitration talks.

In July 2016, the Y notified Aloha Kai it had terminated the agreement; the arbitrator ultimately awarded YMCA a $2 million settlement for the failed deal. That payment obligation was fulfilled recently.

Last week the nonprofit YMCA announced the property sale, adding that plans to rebuild its own facility had been withdrawn.

Surely, whatever new owner comes forward can’t be held to the same development plans, ideal though they had seemed for community use. But at least where affordable housing is concerned, Honolulu, already reeling from its housing shortage, is taking a blow from the loss.

And the city would be well advised to look for ways to secure some moderately-priced homes for sale or rent as a reconfigured development plan takes shape.

In 2013, the YMCA, represented by MB Property Acquisitions sought and eventually secured rezoning of the property from A-2 Medium-Density Apartment District, with a height limit of 150 feet, to High-Density Apartment Mixed Use District, with a height limit of 350 feet.

The land sits near the planned rail terminus at Ala Moana Center, but it won’t need to undergo review under the transit-oriented development (TOD) plan for the area a half-mile radius around the station. That’s because the owners already have the zoning entitled for the sale and would not be held to the affordable-housing requirements of TOD.

But the purchasers likely would want to improve on the deal, and may be open to renegotiating with the city what they would be willing to give for additional density or other incentives.

The Y system has a number of improvement needs and so will want to pitch the property as having the maximum building potential. But it’s the duty of the City Council and city administration to advocate for the public interest here: a healthy commitment to affordable housing.

Officials for the Y have said that they will work to relocate affected employees. That’s good; but there’s still reason to expect them, and others, to recognize how the closure will affect low-income renters, as well.

(Hawaii News Now) New raised crosswalk slows down traffic on Kalihi Street ― as intended

(Source: Hawaii News Now)

New raised crosswalk slows down traffic on Kalihi Street ― as intended

A new raised crosswalk is slowing down traffic on Kalihi Street (as planned)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – A new crosswalk is slowing down traffic on a busy stretch of Kalihi Street. And officials say that’s exactly why it was put in.

The so-called “tabletop crosswalk” is raised slightly above the regular pavement, and is the first of several planned for the area.

There are posted signs warning drivers about the crosswalk and to slow down to 20 mph.

A spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said thousands of cars pass through the area everyday. But so do thousands of students.

“There are about 3,700 students who go to school directly in this area,” said Tim Sakahara.

“It’s right across the street from Kalakaua Middle School, it’s right up the road from Farrington (High School), right down the road from Kalihi Kai Elementary School.”

The posted speed limit in the area is 25 mph. But many drivers are known to go faster than that. The raised crosswalk took some of them by surprise.


“It’s a heavy traffic area, and they put that bump in there, and then everybody slows down, and then there’s more traffic,” one motorist said.


But slowing down is exactly the point, according to the DOT.

“We really want people to change their culture in driving, especially near school zones, to really slow down for the safety of themselves and the people crossing the street,” said Sakahara.

“Groups of kids have a tendency to be looking down,” added Lance Rae, of Walk Wise Hawaii.

“They don’t necessarily have cell phones with them, but they’ll be carrying a backpack or talking to friends, so they’re not really paying attention while crossing the street. So having something elevated like that is perfect for kids.”

The DOT is making several improvements on that stretch of Kalihi Street, and plans to install four more raised crosswalks on the stretch between Dillingham Boulevard and North King Street.

It’s still something new that drivers have to get used to ― even if they think it’s a good idea.

“When we were rushing to an appointment today, it was kinda, very bumpy,” said Aloha Sabalo, who was riding in a car with a friend. But when asked if it was a good thing, she replied, “Yes, I think that it is very important.”

Copyright 2019 HawaNews Now. All rights reserved.

(StarAdvertiser) Partnership owns about 1,000 mostly low-income apartments in Hawaii

(Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser)

About 1,000 mainly low-income Hawaii households have a new private landlord after a more than two-year effort by the state to shed a portfolio of affordable rental housing.

The change, which has worried many residents, affects five properties on three islands now and a sixth property soon.

Komohale LP, a partnership between local developer Stanford Carr and Los Angeles-based Standard Communities, now owns Kauhale Kakaako, Pohulani Elderly and Kekuilani Courts on Oahu; La‘ilani Apartments on Hawaii island; and Honokowai Kauhale on Maui as part of a $130 million purchase from the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. that closed Friday.

A sixth property, the 226-unit Kamakee Vista on Oahu, is included in the sale pact but is scheduled to be transferred on or before July 15 because it is on land owned by the Atherton Family Foundation and leased to the state through 2056.

The five other properties are on state land and were sold with 75-year land leases under which Komohale pays the state $1 a year in ground rent. At the end of the lease, the state automatically reclaims ownership of the buildings.

As part of the deal, Komohale must spend $85 million to renovate all the homes within three years.

The renovation work includes exterior building improvements but equates to $69,615 per unit.

HHFDC initiated the sale by deciding in late 2016 to seek competitive bids to buy its portfolio. Komohale was selected in late 2017 as making the best offer among six bidders.

State officials say the privatization will allow more efficient and quicker improvements to the aging complexes containing significant deferred maintenance because HHFDC was not set up to own and maintain affordable housing.

The agency’s primary mission is to help private developers finance new affordable housing.

“It’s more cost effective to sell the leasehold interest and have Standard Communities and Stanford Carr Development bring private capital to pay for renovations and other capital improvements through the sale,” Gov. David Ige said in a statement. “Leveraging private funds through partnerships like this is a more efficient use of state resources.”

Additionally, HHFDC plans to help produce more low-income housing with $40 million in net proceeds from the sale after paying off debt on the properties.

This, state officials have said, will help offset an expected long-term shift for the six properties from serving mostly low-income tenants to serving only moderate-income residents.

Craig Hirai, HHFDC’s executive director, said in a statement that in the long run the transaction will generate more affordable housing that serves residents with a broader range of incomes.

Under terms of the sale, the new owner can’t raise rents for existing tenants more than 2% a year over the first five years and then 5% annually for another 30 years, except at Pohulani where the 2% cap would continue for current tenants as long as they stay.

HHFDC also said it will continue, and in some cases increase, rent subsidies it provides to many existing tenants.

Despite the assistance and rent limitations, some tenants fear that a private owner will be motivated by profit to churn tenants and maximize rents.

“The people (in my building) are very afraid,” said Gordon Lindsey, a retired state worker who lives at Kauhale Kakaako. “A lot of people are thinking of where they are going to go.”

Lindsey said he was recently notified that his monthly rent is scheduled to rise by $30 as of July.

Monthly rent last year at the six properties ranged from $942 to $1,268 for studios up to three- bedroom units.

For new tenants, Komohale can raise rents to HHFDC-set limits deemed affordable for households earning up to the median income for some of the homes and up to 80% of the median income for other units.

Currently, most tenants in the six properties earn no more than 60% of Honolulu’s median income, which last year equated to $49,020 for a single person or $69,960 for a family of four on Oahu.

At the 80% of median income level, maximum monthly rent could be $1,634 for a studio and $2,426 for a three-bedroom unit on Oahu. At the median income, those figures are $2,042 and $3,032 respectively.

(Hawaii News Now) Honolulu bike share riders increase as Biki turns 2

(Source: Hawaii News Now)

Honolulu bike share riders increase as Biki turns 2
Biki (Image: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU (AP) – A national report says a Honolulu self-service bicycle rental program is now the sixth most used bike share program in the nation.

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Biki is behind New York City, Chicago, greater Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C.

Biki launched in 2017 to some complaints that its docking stations were taking up vehicle parking spots on streets. Officials say one car parking stall can house around eight Biki bikes.

Biki operator Bikeshare Hawaii tells the Honolulu Star-Advertiser usage has increased to an average of three rides per bike per day, up from 1.7 in the first six months of operation.

Officials now want to expand to other parts of the city, add employer discount programs and introduce electric bikes.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(Star Advertiser) Caldwell likely to sign Affordable Rentals Bill

(Source: Star Advertiser)

A bill offering significant building bonuses and breaks from taxes and fees to entice owners of smaller Oahu apartment- zoned properties to develop affordable rentals is expected to be signed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell this week.

Bill 7, dubbed the Affordable Rentals Bill, is designed to jump-start development of apartment rental properties, a critical area of need on Oahu during the current housing shortage crisis.

The Honolulu City Council passed the bill 9-0 earlier this month, and Caldwell has until Friday to sign it, veto it or let it become law without his approval. Caldwell has long championed the idea of encouraging property owners to put up affordable rentals.

Among the incentives are greater density, taller heights, less setback, no required parking, complete waivers from building permit application and wastewater facilities charges, no park dedication fees and a 10-year tax waiver on property taxes.

The goal is to create projects with units that cost no more than $225 a square foot to develop, proponents said.

In exchange, the property owner would be required to charge rents on at least 80% of the units at prices deemed reasonable for those making up to 100% of median income as determined by federal housing guidelines. The dedication would be for perpetuity.

Councilman Brandon Elefante said that according to his calculations, a family making $93,300 annually, or 80% of area median income, would be able to rent a two- bedroom unit for $2,100 a month. The family making $116,600 each year, or 100% of AMI, would be charged no more than $2,625 a month for the same two-bedroom unit, he said.

To help speed up the process, the Department of Planning and Permitting must act on a building permit application for an affordable rental housing project within 90 days, or it will be deemed approved.

The project could not be used as a vacation rental, and leases must be for at least six months.

The bill sets up a five-year pilot program, but Caldwell said it could become permanent if successful.

Retired hotelier Mel Kaneshige, among the main proponents of the bill, told Council members the proposal applies only to properties of 20,000 square feet or less, so it is aimed directly at owners of smaller properties in apartment or business mixed-use districts, not big-time developers.

“It’s the hardest thing to build because it, many times, just doesn’t pencil,” Kaneshige said. Because of that, many of those lots have been sitting idle despite the demand for housing.

“The returns are fairly skinny, so we have to do what we can in order to encourage them to take the step of developing their family- owned parcels into rentals,” he said.

Developer Marshall Hung, another of the bill’s biggest advocates, said about 3,000 properties could take advantage of the program. Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, who worked on the bill for two years and shepherded it through the Council Zoning Committee, said government alone can’t solve Oahu’s housing crunch.

“The most important thing about this bill was getting the private sector to build affordable housing at the lowest levels without taxpayer money,” Pine said.

Pine said anti-“monster house” group HI Good Neighbor pointed out to her that city zoning laws now allow owners in apartment zones less density, or floor area ratio, than those in single-family residential zones. That’s partly to blame for the monster house phenomenon that’s plagued a number of older Oahu communities, because many of the large-scale houses are going toward illegal rentals, she said.

But does the city give up too much?

The width of stairwells was the subject of lively debate in the Zoning Committee.

Under the approved bill, buildings with 35 or fewer units and are less than 100 feet tall would be allowed to have one 48-inch-wide stairwell. Those with more units would be required to provide two 36-inch-wide stairwells. The only exception would be for those buildings with an elevator, in which case only one 36-inch-wide stairwell would be required.

Bill proponents unsuccessfully sought to require that when there are two stairwells, one be allowed to be as narrow as 30 inches.

First responders from the Honolulu Fire Department and Department of Emergency Services raised concerns about the stairwell widths, arguing that it could become dangerous during emergencies when people need to evacuate. They asked that at least one stairwell be 48 inches, regardless of the building’s height. DPP’s original recommendation also called for at least one 48-inch-wide stairwell.

Kaneshige said requiring all buildings to have a 48-inch stairwell would add too much to the per-unit cost. He noted that buildings constructed under the program would be safer because they would be required to have sprinklers, whereas the buildings they would be replacing likely do not.

Assistant Honolulu Fire Chief Socrates Bratakos said the International Building Code calls for 48-inch-wide stairwells except when there are automatic sprinkler systems. The sprinklers being required in the bill would be of a lesser grade, he said. The code says a 36-inch-wide stairway is allowed only when it is serving an occupant load of less than 50, he said.

“Reducing safety standards from what’s code is not something that we recommend,” he said. “The two 36-inchers was somewhat of a compromise.”

(Star Advertiser) City looks to revise bulky item pilot project

(Source: Star Advertiser)

Condominium and apartment owner associations critical of the city’s new appointment-only pilot program for bulky item pickups have convinced officials to review the program.

The association owners took issue with the part of the program that makes the associations or property managers responsible for scheduling pickup appointments on behalf of condominium and apartment dwellers and for storing the bulky items on-site until the pickup date.

Jane Sugimura, president of the Hawaii Council of Associations of Apartment Owners, said she hopes the city doesn’t expect associations or resident managers to coordinate bulky trash pickup times for large-scale properties.

“Some buildings only have that one person to do the management responsibilities for a building,” Sugimura said. “You cannot have the site manager or resident manager, who is an employee of the association, be making the phone calls in a 300-, 600- or 1,000-unit association. That’s just not their job to coordinate this bulky item pickup.”

Requiring those employees to be responsible for transporting bulky items to the curb the night before would pose a liability issue for the associations, she said.

Sugimura said neither she nor her members have a problem with allowing unit owners or residents to phone the city and then be charged for the pickup.

In response, the Department of Environmental Services, which oversees the project, is attempting to set up a procedure to allow individual condo and apartment owners or renters to make appointments themselves, the department’s deputy director, Tim Houghton, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“In thinking about it, it makes sense,” Houghton said. “We’ve got to see about some software to make some adjustments and such — that’s why we’re doing a pilot. As these things come up, we can make adjustments and make things better.”

He said he is meeting with staff to revamp the scheduling system to allow for individual unit owners and occupants to make an appointment for bulky item pickup. “Today they can’t make an appointment for an individual unit, but hopefully in a few days we’ll be able to make an adjustment to allow that,” he said.

When that happens, revised guidelines will be released to the public, Houghton said.

The 20-item limit per multifamily building will have to be adjusted when the change is made to allow owners and dwellers, rather than associations or managers, to make the call, Houghton said.

As for the storage issue, Houghton pointed out that an existing city ordinance already requires that a condo association or property manager store items until they are scheduled to be picked up, no different from what is being asked with the appointment-only system.

However, Lorenia Leyva, general manager of the Waikiki Marina Condominium Association, took exception to the requirement that condo associations be responsible for storing bulky pickup items until appointed pickup days. Her property, like other properties in Waikiki, currently has bulky item pickups once a week, and she said it would be a sudden and drastic change to be allowed only one by-appointment pickup a month.

“My building was built in the late ’70s,” she said. “I don’t have a place to store a month’s worth of bulky items on our property.”

She also felt the pilot project was being unrolled too quickly, without giving associations enough time to prepare.

“With condos there are house rules and information that’s needed to be given to residents, and less than four weeks is really not enough time,” she said.

City officials, however, are not delaying the June 3 start date of the pilot project and began accepting appointment requests Wednesday.

The pilot project affects the roughly 70,000 single and multifamily buildings from Hawaii Kai to Foster Village. The remaining residential buildings on Oahu will continue to have bulky item pickups at a scheduled time once a month.

If the pilot project is successful, the rest of the island would convert to the appointment-only system, Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said.

Oahu residents still would not need to pay for bulky pickup service, at least not yet. While the City Council Budget Committee rejected a fee for standard, weekly pickup that had been proposed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell, it still is considering what remains of Bill 13, which allows the city to charge for bulky item collection after the new fiscal year starts July 1.

(Star Advertiser) 164 potential jurors excused from Kealoha trial due to various reasons such as claustrophobia, illness

(Source: Star Advertiser)


    The jury pool for the trial of Katherine and Louis Kealoha, shown leaving federal court, has been whittled to 249.

The pool of prospective jurors for the federal conspiracy trial of retired Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha; his wife Katherine, a former deputy prosecutor; and three former members of the Hono­lulu Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit is down to 249.

U.S. District Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright excused 164 people Wednesday from the 413 who showed up at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall Monday after he, the government and the defendants reviewed their questionnaires. The 413 were among 1,500 people who received an initial questionnaire in the mail.

Some were excused for illness, others because they had pre-existing travel plans or questionable command of the English language. One was starting a new job, another cares for a parent, another claimed to be claustrophobic.

Seabright scheduled the remaining prospective jurors to be in court for further screening in batches of 45 per day starting today.

The Kealohas, retired Maj. Gordon Shiraishi, Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn and officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen are charged with staging the theft of the Kealohas’ mailbox, framing a Kealoha relative for it and lying to investigators about what they did.

Seabright said he hopes to empanel 12 jurors and four alternates in time for opening statements and the start of evidence presentation next Thursday.

(Star Advertiser) Airbnb says it would have hauled in $64M in taxes for Hawaii last year

(Source Star Advertiser) If the vacation rental platform Airbnb had been authorized to collect taxes on behalf of the state last year, it would have hauled in $64 million in Hawaii hotel room and excise tax revenues, the company says.

The company made that claim in a letter to Gov. David Ige Wednesday urging him to sign Senate Bill 1292, a controversial measure that would make Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms agents of the state for tax collection purposes.

Matt Middlebrook, head of public policy in Hawaii for Airbnb, said in the letter the company expects the total tax take would “greatly exceed” $64 million because the bill would require other vacation rental platforms such as HomeAway, TripAdvisor and VRBO to also collect taxes on behalf of the state.

“We want to help our community pay its fair share of taxes and remain committed to being a good partner to the state,” Middlebrook wrote. The company based its tax calculations on business it conducted in Hawaii from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, according to the letter.

However, it is unclear how much of that $64 million in excise and hotel room taxes is already being paid without assistance from Airbnb. Many vacation rental operators say they already file and pay their own state taxes without the involvement of the vacation rental platforms.

A Hawaii Tourism Authority study identified more than 30,000 vacation units statewide that were being advertised on the Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and VRBO booking platforms, and Airbnb has publicly acknowledged not all of its clients pay state taxes.

SB 1292 has been criticized by residents who say it would provide cover for illegal vacation rentals that have spread across Oahu neighborhoods, but lawmakers adopted the measure this year anyway in the hope it would provide extra revenue to help balance the state budget.

Kekoa McClellan, Hawaii spokesman for the American Hotel and Lodging Association, has called the measure “appalling.”

“This is exactly what Airbnb has wanted for years,” McClellan said in an interview last month. “This bill will create a special treatment for hosting platforms and will allow them hide the illicit activity of these illegal hotels that are ruining our neighborhoods.”

Ige vetoed a bill similar to SB 1292 in 2016, citing a similar objections to the measure. A spokeswoman for Ige said Wednesday the governor is still reviewing it and other bills, and has until June 24 to announce whether he intends to veto the measure.

Meanwhile, the vacation rental platforms have raised their own objections to the bill.

The measure would require vacation rental companies to provide state tax officials with the names of the vacation rental operators and locations of the rentals they book, but Expedia has said it cannot disclose the identities of its clients unless the state subpoenas that information.

The vacation rental platforms are required to keep their clients’ information confidential under the federal Stored Communications Act, according to an Expedia spokeswoman.

Airbnb raised similar concerns in its public testimony on SB 1292 last month, but the company said through a spokesman Wednesday it is now willing to comply

with the final version of the bill.

(Hawaii News Now) First-time homeowners handed the keys to new affordable housing towers in Kakaako

(Source: Hawaii News Now)

First-time homeowners handed the keys to new affordable housing towers in Kakaako

First-time homeowners handed the keys to new affordable housing towers in Kakaako

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hundreds of Hawaii families will begin moving into their new homes in Kakaako this week as two major affordable housing projects open their doors to new residents.

Ke Kilohana is the first affordable housing tower in Ward Village, and 375 units in the high-rise tower have been reserved for first-time homeowners.

On Tuesday, Ricky and Karen Muraoka were handed the keys to their new two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the 43-story condominium that was developed by Howard Hughes.

The young couple moved to Hawaii from Los Angeles. For Ricky Muraoka, it was an opportunity to come back home to Oahu.

“Who wouldn’t want to live in central Kakaako,” he said. “We’re excited to be able to walk everywhere, and we really were fortunate to get in and have a unit here.”

A two-bedroom affordable unit in Ke Kilohana measures about 750 square feet ― and prices start at around $473,000.

The building comes with amenities like a sky lanai, a kids playground, a theater and a karaoke room.

(Star Advertiser) Chinatown homeless: Police and citizens join forces

  • Video by Craig T. Kojima, Dennis Oda and Bruce Asato / ckojima@staradvertiser.com, doda@staradvertiser.com and basato@staradvertiser.com

    An Institute for Human Services survey found that 172 people were homeless in Chinatown throughout 2018. Residents, merchants and police in Honolulu’s historic Chinatown district are grappling with a growing homeless population.

1 / 5


In the summer of 2015, one of America’s largest homeless encampments sprung up in plain site around Kakaako Waterfront Park where Honolulu police and state sheriff’s deputies found themselves chasing more than 300 homeless people between city streets, state parks and privately owned parcels of land.

Among all of the finger-pointing over jurisdiction, Honolulu Police Department Sgt. Deric Valoroso found an effective way to help some of Kakaako’s homeless by informally teaming up with social workers who had answers to many of their needs.


“It worked,” Valoroso said.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Dan Nakaso spent three weeks in Chinatown — from the early hours to late at night — interviewing business owners, police, homeless people, residents, tourists and government officials about homelessness in the historic district.Thursday: What’s next for Chinatown?

Now two programs are underway in Chinatown and other parts of the urban core that were born from the Kakaako experience: H.E.L.P. Honolulu, which stand for “Health Efficiency and Long-term Partnerships;” and LEAD, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion.

The programs pair up social workers from 30 different organizations with Honolulu police (H.E.L.P.) and state sheriff’s deputies (LEAD).

The idea is to take homeless people who are at risk for a citation or low-level arrest — such as violations of the city’s “sit-lie” ban, for example — and offer them immediate assistance through a social service agency.

“Law enforcement is the portal of entry,” said Heather Lusk, executive director of the Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center that helps run both LEAD and H.E.L.P. Honolulu. “Anyone with violence is excluded, any sexual offenses are excluded.”

Homeless people with outstanding warrants are referred to Honolulu’s Community Outreach Court, which waives sometimes dozens of arrests, citations and warrants for homeless people who also agree to work with social service agencies.

The city Prosecutor’s office is still figuring out what kind of offenses will be dismissed through H.E.L.P. Honolulu. But since it began on July 1, LEAD is already showing signs of success, Lusk said.

Some 50 homeless people have been enrolled so far following encounters with either HPD or sheriff’s deputies, Lusk said.

“Twenty are now sheltered, four completed substance abuse treatment and for one person it’s the first time they’ve been sober in 25 years,” Lusk said. “Over 30 needed to get their IDs. At least 10 people needed legal help, such as meeting with their probation officers before going to court. We’ve had a couple reunified with their children.”

One homeless man in Iwilei had daily contact with deputies until they came back with social service workers as their partners.

“He was one of our first-day clients,” Lusk said. “Four days ago he got sheltered for the first time in almost five years. We’re starting to see early results.”

HPD Capt. Mike Lambert, who oversees both programs, said the partnerships with social service agencies also have improved morale for beat officers because they now have a new tool.

“It’s a true partnership versus a referral system,” Lambert said. “We literally work hand in hand because we realized enforcement alone couldn’t do it.”

Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator, said both programs are “a way to prevent people from entering the system. Law enforcement has an additional tool so they (homeless violators) don’t actually get arrested or get a citation.”

Social workers working with law enforcement, “meet people where they’re at, get them transportation to shelter, get them to medical appointments, get them ID and get them substance abuse treatment,” Morishige said.

Honolulu police also have a new resource in the year-old Joint Outreach Center in the same building as the Chinatown HPD substation.

Officers have to make sure a suspect with a medical issue is cleared before booking them into the police cellblock, said Andy Mounthongdy, executive director of the Hawaii Homeless Healthcare Hui, also known as H4, which runs the JOC. But the wait at The Queen’s Medical Center can take up a full police shift, said Mounthongdy, whose time at the JOC is donated by Queen’s.

At the JOC, officers can have the suspect medically cleared in a fraction of the time, Mounthongdy said.

“Most times we get them in and out in an hour,” he said. “They (police) can then spend the rest of the time patrolling on the street. It’s a resource for the community, a benefit for the community.”

“It’s made a difference,” said HPD officer Elvin “Boom” Bumanglag.

Bumanglag and Valoroso walked through Chinatown on a recent Thursday morning with 10 senior citizens from the Chinatown Citizens Patrol who were outfitted with bright yellow T-shirts.

The Citizens Patrol represents another partnership with HPD to address homelessness at the street level, said Valoroso, who works out of Kukui Gardens in HPD’s Community Policing and Weed and Seed unit.

“They take pride in this area,” Valoroso said. “No matter, rain or shine, they come out.”

Every week the Citizens Patrol, joined by armed HPD officers, sends a clear message to homeless people causing problems in Chinatown, Valoroso said.

Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, on scooter, chairwoman of the Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board No. 13, on patrol.

“It’s meant to say that the Citizens Patrol is here to be the eyes of the police,” he said, “and to take back our neighborhood.”



Number of social service organizations teaming up with Honolulu police officers and state sheriff’s deputies to offer services to homeless people in Chinatown


Number of homeless people since July enrolled in two law-enforment programs


Number of those 50 homeless people who have gotten into shelters

Source: Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center

 Comments (4)