Honolulu Mayor Ramps Up Response to Homelessness

Caldwell, police say the homeless are not targets. The city plans to acquire housing and proposes new restrictions on what can be done in public spaces.

·By Sophie Cocke

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveiled a more aggressive strategy Wednesday for tackling the homeless problem, which includes moving as many as 440 homeless people into permanent housing in the next two years.

The housing initiative, supported by $47.2 million in funds recently approved by the Honolulu City Council, is being paired with two bills introduced by the mayor last week that would crack down on sleeping and camping out on Waikiki sidewalks and defecating and urinating on public property. 

Caldwell announced his revamped homeless strategy at a press conference at the Waikiki Grass Shack Bistro in Kuhio Beach Park, which has become one of the battlegrounds in the city’s efforts against homelessness.

As Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell looks on during a news conference Wednesday on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, Scott Charles Fox, a Vietnam vet speaks about his positive experience with the Housing First program.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

The event, which took place against a backdrop of tourists and locals frolicking in the turquoise water of Waikiki, also attracted the attention of some of the homeless people milling around the area.

One man approached the mayor asking about belongings that were confiscated by the police. Another homeless man gazed at posters detailing the mayor’s homeless strategies.

Joined by about half a dozen police officials, homeless service providers, key leaders of his administration, the state homeless czar and a homeless veteran, Caldwell highlighted the need to take back public spaces increasingly occupied by the homeless

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Sophie Cocke

Sophie Cocke is a reporter for Civil Beat. You can reach her by email at sophie@civilbeat.com or follow her on twitter at @sophiecocke.
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