Think About It: Downtown Downer - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

May 1, 2014

Think About It: Downtown Downer

I attended a fundraiser downtown a couple of weeks back. It was a great event, marred only by the unpleasant task of actually walking two blocks to the event from a nearby public parking lot. After escaping the odor of stale urine in the parking lot stairwell, we came upon a downtown denizen sleeping on a cement partition at the adjoining building. As we traversed across the small park next to the Hawaii Theatre, we were treated to a pair of ranters arguing in the park amid the half-eaten salad and plate lunch strewn on the ground.

The homeless situation gets lots of attention here, and rightfully so. It seems we now see more focus on street sleepers as the homeless have migrated from Oahu's leeward coast beaches to in-your-face sites like around the UH medical School in Kakaako, downtown, and in that well-known visitor realm, Waikiki. While there is no single, simple, all-purpose solution to the problem of economic woes substance abuse and/or mental health problems which may lead to homelessness, we need to keep the pressure on elected officials to provide answers and more counseling and other options to help many of these people get back on their feet and out of the streets. The state of Utah actually provides housing for homeless people, preferring those costs to the government costs of treating homelessness, and apparently it's working to greatly reduce Utah's homeless issue. 

Are we looking at all of the tested options that have worked elsewhere? Is there strong networking between cities, states, and social entities nationwide or worldwide to help municipalities better handle this burgeoning problem? It always sounds great to talk about ending homelessness, just like it's a great sound bite when elected officials remind us that they really support education. But if we want to reclaim Waikiki and revitalize downtown, more needs to be done soon. Think about it…

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