Think About It: The Circle of Strife - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

August 4, 2011

Think About It: The Circle of Strife

I remember a Christmas Day about 20-years ago when I took my kids down to A'ala Park to help hand out some toys to those less fortunate and without a permanent home. At first they balked, but upon seeing the brief moments of happiness they provided to kids their own age, my son said, "Dad, can we do this again every year?" The tent city that housed many people back then is long gone, but a tragic irony is that with the constant re-shuffling and movement of street livers, there is now a tent city- more like a fence city- right across the street from the park alongside Beretania, as many tarps and sheets are angled from fence tops to the grassy strips along the sidewalk.

The view is a constant reminder that the homeless problem is not going away, and while attempts to encourage people to find temporary homes in shelters has been a positive step, the reasons that some people opt to stay away is complicated and cannot be solved in one mighty sweep. Surely, the site of bags, shopping carts, and homemade tents in this area cannot be pleasing to residents and nearby office buildings. But just like we heard the tale of one homeless man saying he simply moved three blocks over when the last sweep came in Kakaako near the UH medical school, moving people out removes an eyesore, but not the problem.

So again I ask, are there methods being successfully used in other cities that might be tried here? Are there better public/private partnerships that might involve some sort of work/housing situations to encourage the seemingly incorrigible homeless to give it a shot? Can the mental illness and substance abuse experts strategize to help alleviate the problem through needed treatment? I am sure it is frustrating for the experts, and perhaps all of this is being done to some degree, but seeing homeless people living 50-yards from where they lived 20-years ago in even worse encampments represents a vicious cycle and a vicious circle that cries out for better answers. Think about it…

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