Monday, October 12, 2015

Honolulu to homeless: disappear

Honolulu to homeless: go somewhere, anywhere, but not here:
Honolulu officials completed the final sweeps of what was one of the largest homeless encampments in the nation, tearing down structures that had been home to some for over a year.
The final push to clear out the Kakaako homeless camp, just steps from the Pacific Ocean and not far from Waikiki, ended Friday amid a chaotic scene of people trying to gather their belongings before they were taken away by officials.
People dragged items away from their makeshift homes while police cars blocked off one of the streets of the encampment. Families waited with their belongings in a nearby park, some hoping to go to a shelter, but when the sprinklers in the park turned on, they had to move.
“We just want to make sure folks know the park is not a place for people to live,” said Lindsay Doi, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which manages the park. “It’s a place for the public to enjoy.”
The homeless, apparently, are not part of that public.
Cheyenne Suka, who ran a shop from his tent in the encampment, waited in a wheelchair to go to a shelter near his kidney dialysis treatment facility.
“I’m in very much pain. A lot of emotion,” Mr. Suka said. “A lot of hard feelings, but what can I say? An authority speaks. I’m just an ordinary man that’s trying to live.”
Medicare pays for dialysis, and this provides a revenue stream to thousands of for-profit dialysis centers around the country. But there is no money to be made in sheltering the homeless. Mr. Suka is caught in the wrong side of the balance sheet.
Longtime camp residents placed a sign on the street questioning Gov. David Ige’s commitment to helping the homeless. Another sign explained the state’s “aloha spirit,” advocating compassion for those without a home.
Andrew Neuman of Honolulu, who was volunteering, tried to help a family load its belongings into his van, but the police asked him to move.
City officials estimated that 100 homeless people were affected by the two-day sweep, which began Thursday.
But others thought that estimate was low, saying they believe at least 250 people were living in the camp when the final sweeps began. The section of the camp being emptied had been home to many for years despite sporadic sweeps, and many carted their belongings to a nearby park, hoping to return in a few days.
The Institute for Human Services, one of the biggest homeless service providers on Oahu, said it had helped 73 people from Kakaako get shelter and housing over the last two months. The total included three families who moved directly into housing and 10 families and 23 single adults moved to shelters, the agency said. [my bolding]
 Just three families moved into housing in the last two months?
Outreach workers canvassed the encampment before the sweeps began to inform people living there that buses would take them to shelters.
The sweeps in the camp started in early September, but the city has been enforcing rules that prohibit where homeless can set up for years. Concerned business owners and residents have been pushing to clear the encampments, saying they are a nuisance to tourists and a public safety hazard.
Like being homeless isn't a safety hazard to the homeless---but as noted earlier, they evidently don't count count as part of the public.

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