…Eight programs on Oahu that serve 282 homeless teenagers and homeless adults with HIV/AIDS and mental illness have begun losing their federal Housing and Urban Development funding as the agency changes its approach to homelessness.
The $1.3 million in cuts will affect some of the most vulnerable homeless people on the island. And the biggest chunk — $335,489 — will hit Gregory House programs the hardest.
The organization currently houses 20 formerly homeless clients with HIV/AIDS, who typically are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions and often have mental health problems.
Today, Executive Director Jonathon Berliner plans to tell the patients living in lower Makiki that there is no plan for where they’ll live as of Sept. 1.
“It’s baffling that HUD would do something like this when we have the highest (per capita) rate of homelessness” in the country, Berliner said. “These are people who have nowhere else to go. We’re doing what we can to not just dump our clients out on the street.”
Aloha and Welcome to Paradise. Unless You’re Homeless.
Honolulu responded to what the governor called a state of emergency, passing tough criminal laws aimed at ridding sidewalks, streets and parks of homeless people.
by Adam Nagourney, New York Times, June 3, 2016 (excerpts)
Anna Sullivan is prohibited from sitting on a sidewalk. She cannot wander off to find food without worrying that the police might seize her (sic!) shopping cart. She cannot sleep on Waikiki Beach without fear of being rousted (but she still won’t go to a shelter.)
Ms. Sullivan, 45, has been homeless for eight years since she got out of prison (and still won’t go to a shelter). But these days — after run-ins with the police over where she sleeps, sits or leaves her belongings — she tries to keep away from Waikiki, the bustling tourist district whose sidewalks and beaches she once used as her home (but she still won’t go to a shelter.)
“Tickets, tickets, tickets,” she said, already looking weary at the start of her morning, sipping a cup of iced coffee as she sat on a bench by the beach. “The cops give you a ticket to keep you moving. And then you have to pay the ticket for sleeping in the park. It gets to you (but I still won’t go to a shelter).” ….
“You know what they say the state bird of Hawaii is?” asked Eric John Odegaard, 44, who has been homeless most of his life, gesturing to the growing Honolulu skyline. “The crane.” Mr. Odegaard sleeps in the nearby mountains. (But he won’t go to a shelter, either.)
In interviews, homeless men and women displayed a mastery of the intricacies of state and city laws (thanks, ACLU), of how some sidewalks are covered and others are not and of how beaches open at 5 a.m., allowing a few hours to sleep before it gets too hot. They know not to smoke a cigarette on a beach or push a shopping cart along the sidewalk in Waikiki, prohibited activities which will draw the attention of the police.
“We had to go from the state side of the street to the city property,” said Brian Bowser, 36, who has been homeless since 1995. “We just do our best (to avoid being forced into a shelter).” …
Ernie Martin, the chairman of the Honolulu City Council, said he voted reluctantly for the sidewalk law, known as the sit-lie measure, and saw it as a stopgap. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter: We can sit-lie the whole island if we want,” he said. “The population has to go somewhere. We can’t push them into the ocean (or a shelter).”
“People moved because they were being harassed,” said Dan Foster, 49, who has been homeless since coming from Oregon more than a year ago….
Across town the next morning, police officers monitoring a bank of surveillance cameras at the Chinatown substation spotted Darlin Abelaye, who has lived most of her 55 years on the streets here. She was settled in front of a liquor store, her legs splayed, struggling to light a cigarette. By sitting down, she was violating the 16-month-old city ordinance.
Moments later, Ms. Abelaye looked up as two officers approached on Maunakea Street. She peered up the empty sidewalks and rose unsteadily. By now, she knew where to head when the police came. “I’ll go to (a shelter? Nope.) Aala Park,” she said. “That’s where I’ll sleep.” ….
“If I wanted detox, I would have been there already, Justin,” Mr. McCarroll replied.
Mr. McCarroll has maintained his perch on his corner, law or no law, for as long as he can remember. Few authorities would want to be in a position of rousting a battered, 64-year-old man from his wheelchair. Not that they have given up. “I have 30 tickets,” he said. “I’m never going to pay them and they know that.” ….
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in the United States District Court in Hawaii, charging that Honolulu was violating the constitutional rights of people struggling to survive. “We are very concerned about laws that criminalize the status of indigency,” said Daniel M. Gluck, the legal director of the A.C.L.U. of Hawaii. “We have seen some very aggressive laws here.” (And we can’t beat them in court so the Obama Admin is cutting off funds.)