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Homeless solution remains elusive

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Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014 12:15 am

‘Homeless campers evicted’

That was the top headline in Friday’s TGI after campers at Anahola Beach Park were told to vacate or face arrest last week. We’re not disputing that these folks weren’t supposed to be there, but we will argue this is a sign of the severity of the homeless problem in Hawaii and specifically, on Kauai. When people must live in tents, when they have nowhere else to go, the permanent solution shouldn’t be to chase them away. When families have nowhere to go and must sleep in their car, the final solution isn’t to knock on the window and tell them to move along. It seems, though, that’s what we usually do. 

No surprise that homelessness is a problem. Kauai is a very expensive place to live. Rent, utilities, groceries and gas — all of which hit the shrinking middle class and the rising low-income hard — are among the highest in the nation. Jobs aren’t easy to come by. Jobs that pay well for blue-collar folks are at a premium. There are some who argue if people can’t make it here, then they should leave and go to North Dakota and work in the oil fields. Plenty of jobs there. But if this is your home, it’s difficult to pack up and move on, especially from a place known as paradise. So despite difficult living conditions, people stay. They want to remain in the place they love and there is much to love about Kauai.

Some will argue, the homeless have only themselves to blame. Should have gone to college, learned a better skill. Too lazy to work, some say. They drink, do drugs and smoke. They came here without work and assumed everyone would greet them with open arms and care for them. There’s also the argument, the more you do for the homeless, the more you’ll have. Provide free food, clothes, services, a place to sleep, and you’ll soon have all the homeless men and women you can handle and they’ll keep coming back. There will always be those who take advantage of resources and the kindness of others. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to assist the homeless. Many try, but have fallen on tough times.

There are short-term solutions to help the homeless, to make daily living a bit better. Soup kitchens, shelters, nonprofits, churches try to help. So do community groups, like Voices of Kauai, which works to bring credibility to the working homeless and the families that have nowhere to go.

Bottom line — the homeless population on Kauai is going to increase before it decreases. More will arrive via plane, somehow scrapping together ticket fare to get here. Others will lose jobs, lose their housing. Take a look around when you’re out and about, when you visit parks, the path by the ocean, places off the beaten path. The homeless are here and they’re not leaving, even if they wanted to. Just check out the price of a plane ticket, one way. The homeless are not just unknown people. They are friends, family and neighbors who work hard and need a chance.

We will likely never end homelessness. We don’t know the solution. We’re not going to call for building homeless shelters, establishing tent city sites or giving out food vouchers or providing free job training. Even on Oahu, they’re wondering what to do with their homeless, an escalating problem there.

We do know this — generosity, awareness, compassion and kindness go a long way toward improving lives. And those won’t cost you anything.

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Welcome to the discussion.

10 comments:

  • notahippi posted at 1:14 pm on Mon, Jun 16, 2014.

    notahippi Posts: 482

    Speaking for the local homeless on the westside.....families are being kicked out, asked to pack up and move in the middle of the night, shinning flash lights in their children faces as they sleep...

    They want a house.....they are willing to work.....but there are no jobs....and yes we are getting so many mental/drug people coming from the mainland to seek warm weather, this creates an even harder burden on the local people....And the county.....the cops make it unbearable...The only one that I see out there with any compassion or understanding is the Kauai Bible church...to them I say thank you....

     
  • Speeding Snail posted at 4:41 pm on Mon, Jun 9, 2014.

    Speeding Snail Posts: 194

    Hawaii's climate is conducive to homelessness. If you have an umbrella, you have a roof over your head in Hawaii. It's what you do under that umbrella that determines whether you'll be viewed as island scenery, or vermin. Public urination, drunkenly beating your kids, wife, or dogs, panhandling in the parking lots, or just plain smashing and grabbing from tourist vehicles...these will wear out your welcome.

     
  • VOK-KNK posted at 11:51 am on Tue, Jun 3, 2014.

    VOK-KNK Posts: 37

    MAHALO for the "shout out" on the efforts of Voice's of Kauai to "bring credibility to the working homeless." The real "shout out" belongs to the PEOPLE that give VOK the ABILITY TRUST & FAITH to speak on their behalf....The Bus Lady & Hubby, The Music Man & his Lady, Jumba, The Fisherman & his Pal, The Tree Families & People, Beach Combers, those who "Materialize Unexpectedly" & those whose "COLORFUL Personalities TRULY BUTTER our bread!!!!! MAHALO to the AGENCIES" that work WITH US & the "Official Entities" that "begrudgely" at times ATTEMPT to work WITH US to keep us informed & allow us to keep you informed & RESPECT our ANNONIMITY Policy. MAHALO TO those who DONATE food, clothes, toiletries, & other MUCH NEEDED ITEMS, Above all MAHALO KE A KUA for the BLESSINGS you have given VOK!

     
  • Eagle 6 posted at 8:54 pm on Thu, May 29, 2014.

    Eagle 6 Posts: 1198

    Our view, bettejo, mrb,
    Thanks,
    It's alarming that people can think this can't happen ....or worse, look the other way. I'm guilty at a certain level, and it bothers me that I am.

     
  • onegeaeme posted at 5:46 pm on Thu, May 29, 2014.

    onegeaeme Posts: 5726

    Thank you MRB. I know there are answers. Check out what's going on in Oakland. In Detroit. How in the word can we look ourselves in the eye? The ''richest most powerful' nation in the world? With so many homeless? Hungry. Scared. Depressed.

    We have so many vacant houses. Not fancy, but dry. Empty lots that can be gardened. Food produced. I think anyone who can work, should be put to work. There's so much to do. Nor nasty, senseless stuff but productive, creative, beneficial activities. We'd all benefit.

    We simply cannot go on hiding and herding these folks around like cattle.

    Bettejo Dux

     
  • mrb posted at 4:28 pm on Thu, May 29, 2014.

    mrb Posts: 121

    Clearly, a multi-dimensional approach in addressing ways in which homelessness must be dealt with requires a collaborative endeavor which includes the various components of the public and private sectors. Has there been a task force summit arranged to bring representatives from the Department of Health; the agencies and entities that deal with providing services and amenities; the religious groups; the business and professional community; the public-enforcement entities; the military; the foundations; and whoever and whatever else may be interested in bringing focus and substance to the ways in which homelessness can be dealt with with "compassion, empathy, sympathy, understanding, generosity and kindness" as eloquently expressed by Bettejo Dux? In the process, the multi-dimensional CAUSES should be clearly delineated and the the ways in which the homeless may be able to become self-reliant and self-sufficient can't be through a "one-size-fits-all" approach. There should be opportunities for the homeless to participate and contribute in ways in which community health and well-being can be promoted and/or encouraged. There should be gardens to grow and/or services to provide to add to basic needs and amenities which can be beneficial to many. There should be opportunities for volunteer work and/or gainful employment created. It is often in the common bond of mutual respect that agreements are made and the willingness and desire to get something accomplished is actualized. We need to maintain that degree of sincerity and integrity in developing the timelines and benchmarks to address the challenges of homelessness in our midst. The essence of genuine "aloha" is crucial! Sincerely, MrB

     
  • Linda NBCT posted at 12:21 pm on Thu, May 29, 2014.

    Linda NBCT Posts: 22

    Beach parks are not good places to live long term. The sea air is damp.

    Better to create an affordable campground, up away from the water, closer to work and public transportation. In some places they have carports where people can pitch their tents a little sheltered from the driving rain, with some hope of their laundry drying in the breeze. Locking boxes where they can store their material goods while they seek work. Coin showers and a laundry mat. Perhaps the camp ground could be managed by work wise or one of the other agencies designed to help people recover from a set back.

     
  • onegeaeme posted at 12:16 pm on Thu, May 29, 2014.

    onegeaeme Posts: 5726

    Sadly, many homeless have college degrees. It isn't that they don't want to work, work is not available. I can't stand the thought of little kids and seniors living in the streets. We herd them around like cattle. They are human beings. So terribly true: we must express compassion, empathy, sympathy, understanding, generosity, kindness. I think it might help if more and more of us would finally figure out: we, too, could be rendered homeless.

    Women, kids and seniors, the mentally disturbed, simply must have shelter. Help where you can. Wish, most sincerely, more of my tax dollars went to help the innocent victims.

    Bettejo Dux

     
  • KeepItReal posted at 8:47 am on Thu, May 29, 2014.

    KeepItReal Posts: 4

    I would safely bet that the majority of the homeless on Kauai are not from Kauai. We do take care of family and there are a number of homes that have multi-generational families living under one roof to prevent homelessness. I have no sympathy for those that come here and try to take advantage of the limited services offered and came here because of the temperate weather conditions. I remember after hurricane Iniki and all the riff raff that came to Kauai because of the FEMA benefits. I say if you're homeless on Kauai and have only been on island a short time, then I would gladly donate money to send your a$$ back to the Mainland or wherever you came from!

     
  • myparfun posted at 7:31 am on Thu, May 29, 2014.

    myparfun Posts: 12

    someone should evict the homeless at glass beach next

     

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