Homelessness in Paradise

Photographed by Aaron Yoshino for FLUX Hawaii’s Transition issue in 2009.

Hawai‘i’s homelessness issue affects us all in some way. Walking in the grass along Waikīkī Beach, showering off after a swim at Ala Moana Park, or even grabbing a bite to eat in Chinatown all provide a similar experience. After all of these years, we’ve gotten used to it … right? Well, yes and no. We have grown accustomed to the occasional interaction while strolling down a street, but I think most of us want to see an improvement. I mean a permanent improvement, not another temporary shuffling of some sort.

I am interested in the people who are actively working towards this change to not only better the public area of O‘ahu, but also the individual lives of the homeless. While many people are merely waiting for change, there are a number who have committed to making it happen. I plan to feature these people, not necessarily based on the scale of their contributions, but rather their devotion to the cause.

Recently, Mayor Kirk Caldwell proposed two new bills aiming to clean the streets as part of his “compassionate disruption” campaign. One intended to prevent public urination and defecation; the second—which is prompting heated debate—to prevent people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks. He has also recently stated his goal to provide housing for more than 400 homeless individuals and families. Caldwell’s current proposed budget for this is a staggering $47.2 million, and if the future is anything like the past, that budget will have cuts. Regardless, it is motivating to know that there is hope for the cause, and changes are underway.

Until next week, check out this article from the New York Times. Homelessness in Hawai‘i is of national interest it seems.

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