Think About It: Homelessness vs. Helplessness? - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News, Weather and Sports

May 4, 2015

Think About It: Homelessness vs. Helplessness?

We're not winning the war on homelessness, much like we have never won the war on drugs or poverty. But rather than just talk about talking about the situation, what can be done to make a concrete, realistic, analytically-defined difference? Rather than just shuffle the homeless around from the leeward beaches to A'ala Park to Kaka'ako and Waikiki as we've done for 30-years, what steps can be taken to immediately help alleviate this problem/crisis? And while there is no single or simple answer, we need more people involved, not talking.

What if more medical professionals, doctors and mental health experts volunteered to help the understaffed professionals already trying to deal with homeless individuals and made case-by-case assessments? There are plenty of people in the local psychology field helping out already, but is there a concerted effort to create a system whereby it would be easy for trained professionals to contact someone and provide intervention immediately? Is there a clearinghouse that makes it easier for willing medics, able to give of their time, to get into contact with people most in need? What if other 250 medical professionals, beyond the already-helpful Veterans' Administration, came forward to provide much-needed analysis and directed people who truly do want answers? Could that begin to help reduce numbers by 100 or more in the coming months? 

Treating people in need simply as good Samaritans by extending their Hippocratic Oath beyond daily private practices would be a real plus in the on-going effort to make a difference on our streets. But there needs to be coordination. Here's another thought- Salt Lake City's Housing First initiative has reduced chronic homelessness there by 72%; have we looked hard at that option? I know housing in general is hard to come by in Hawaii. But with more public-private efforts, the time is right for absolute action and some restraint on political pontifications with minimal results. We need action and we need it now. Think about it…

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