Ward Seeks Attorney General's Opinion On Hawaii Kai Homeless Map
News Release from Office of Rep Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai) December 30, 2016
Honolulu - Representative Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai-Kalama Valley), has sent a letter to Attorney General Chin for his opinion on the Hawaii Kai Homeless Map. The letter is attached. Rep. Ward’s 2016 November Newsletter is also attached, which shows a detailed Hawaii Kai Homeless Map.
PDF: Map of Hawaii Kai Homeless Camps
Big Q: What do you think about a state lawmaker providing a map of homeless encampments in his district?
Aloha Attorney General Chin,
For the past several months, your office and mine have had a healthy dialogue about what and what cannot be done about the growing homeless crisis in Hawaii in general, and in Hawaii Kai in particular.
Today that issue took another turn, and was featured in today's Star-Advertiser in an article entitled: "Lawmaker issues map of Hawaii Kai homeless."
My purpose in writing you is to get a legal opinion on what the newspaper and some quoted legal experts and federal housing authorities are suggesting that by publishing a map where homeless camps are known to exist, may in affect be unconstitutional or a type of invasion of privacy. Our newsletter never listed a person's name or photo, only the locations where they were encamped.
(See attached copies of my November 2016 Newsletter as well as the December 27, 2016 Star-Advertiser article - that suggests some type of illegality about my one-time issuance of the map.)
Is there a constitutional issue if an elected official publishes a map of the known locations of some mentally ill homeless people as a safety precaution to families with children to avoid such places? You will note in my November Newsletter map and in its accompanying narrative, that we have a homeless man in Portlock who was "naked and wielding a knife" on Hanapepe Street; the map also noted that a man continually yelling epithets at customers was located in one of Hawaii Kai's shopping centers.
Your guidance would be greatly appreciated because the majority of the locations of the homeless encampments in Hawaii Kai have been on private property, in particular that of Kamehameha Schools and the Hawaii Kai Marina Associations. These property owners have noted to my office that they have spent over $100,000 dislodging the homeless to date, cleaning up and disposing of their trash, as well as erecting fences following evictions from their property.
In particular, I request that you state what laws suggest that I cannot publish the aforementioned map of my community, and by what law, can this can be considered unconstitutional or profiling when it is done to protect the public. No names or faces have ever been collected in our efforts in Hawaii Kai, and our Homeless Task Force has attempted to assist with social services to over 2 dozen persons so far, but all to no avail since all have refused our services, even transportation of their goods to a shelter in town.
Thank you again for your advice and we look forward to your speedy response to this new constitutional issue raised by a homeless map in Hawaii Kai.
Representative Gene Ward
Minority Leader Emeritus
Rep Gene Ward Maps Homelessness in Hawaii Kai—Activists Demand Censorship
Star-Adv Dec 30, 2016: The map describes an (unnamed) man at China Walls as a meth addict “Whose Mother Has Restraining Order Against Him” and, at Hawaii Kai Towne Center, a “Mentally Ill Homeless Man (who) Frequently Screams at People.” They are among 11 suspected homeless hot spots from Sandy Beach to Hahaione….
Ward could be running afoul of federal privacy laws that protect the disclosure of medical conditions (LOL!), as well as jeopardizing potential federal funding to Hawaii from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (LOLROTF!), said Tristia Bauman, senior attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based National Law Center on Homeless & Poverty….
“Publishing a map of ‘reported homeless events’ in public areas only serves to move us further away from addressing the causes of homelessness,” Mateo Caballero, the Hawaii ACLU’s legal director, wrote in an email to the Star-Advertiser. “Instead, it is an open invitation to further profile, dehumanize and harass those that have nowhere to go (besides shelter) except our parks, sidewalks and shared public spaces. (Well OK, that’s a lie, but we are working hard to eliminate shelter spaces so this will become a true statement.) The Constitution protects the rights of the poor and homeless against government policies that target them unfairly or criminalize their mere existence (attempt to treat their mental illness and drug addictions).”
(Civil Disobedience Idea: Make a map of homeless camps in YOUR community.)
SA: A guide to Hawaii Kai’s homeless camps
read … Homeless Map