Think About It: Housing Help - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News, Weather and Sports

October 12, 2017

Think About It: Housing Help

As the Kaka`ako Waterfront Park shut down on Sunday night, it looked like, once again, we are back to playing the unsuccessful "whack-a-mole" game that has been used before- move ‘em out of one area and the disenfranchised homeless core will simply find somewhere else to go, until we move them out again. Two years ago, about 300 people were moved from this area; this time it's about 180 people. Vandalism, fires, dog attacks, it all makes sense as to why the state would shut this camp and park down, but how are we doing on answers to "what's next?" How many more parks will we have to avoid on a regular basis?

Yes, the village development along Nimitz Highway will be great, and hopefully will evolve into a self-sustaining community. But you know what they did in Utah? They reduced homelessness by 2015 by an estimated 70%- yes 70%- by providing housing before people were given treatment, before they had to deal with forms that many won't, or can't fill out. They got free counseling, therapy, and health care as they tried to get their lives back together. After five years of the Housing First program, 88% stayed in the units provided. In Denver, emergency-service costs went down 73% for people put in Housing First, according to a 2015 Mother Jones article. Detox visits in the Mile High City went down 82%. Lots of governmental savings there.

We need the will, brains, and the cooperation; we need housing tax credit experts and subsidy gurus, along with counselling services and land owners to come together and get a project like this done locally. The effort will not be quick, easy or cheap, but there are plenty of places making it work. Let's stop hearing about the yet another multi-million dollar Kaka`ako development and start hearing about affordable housing for everyday, hard-working people and Housing First ideas for our indigent, chronically homeless people. Think about it…

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