Think About It: Canadian Bakin' - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

May 28, 2015

Think About It: Canadian Bakin'

In 2009, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, began a five-year plan to rid itself of homelessness through a "housing first" initiative. The idea was to quickly move people in the throes of homelessness into independent and permanent housing, according to the Vancouver Sun newspaper. After moving people inside, the causes of the homelessness and possible solutions are quickly addressed. I grant you that Medicine Hat is a small place with a tiny fraction of the homeless problem we have here, and it surely costs more money to live in Hawaii, and I know we have a big-time housing shortage and land issues, and not all people would fit the mold for this program, but we know all of those local nuances going in. So can we learn from these folks, adapt and make headway as we slowly explore "Housing First" here in Hawaii?

The mayor of Medicine Hat last week said that he expects to make a major announcement on homelessness by year end. Mayor Ted Clugston says the program goal is to get someone housed within 10-days of learning there's a problem. 10-days. And this mayor is a fiscal conservative, according to the newspaper report. Salt Lake City, Boston, and California's Alameda County have also shown signs of success in "housing first" initiatives.  Are we using these available outside resources as we discuss a possible site at Hilo Hattie in Iwilei?  

As we inch forward, is anyone here talking to these communities to see what works and where the pitfalls might be? Or do we continue to run headlines ad nauseum about the need to do something, without doing much of anything, passing the hot potato around, much like politicos here annually talk about the need to educate our keiki while we annually deprive them of reasonable air in classrooms and the necessary books and tools to learn at times? Here's a tip of the hat to Medicine Hat; let's do things proactively, creatively, and with public-private support to mitigate homelessness, unless you just feel like talking about it in the "things-we-need-to-do-something-about-but-don't" file,  along with the Waikiki Natatorium and Stairway To Heaven. Think about it…

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