Hawaii may be the quintessential beach bum destination, but a new law lets authorities move the state’s homeless population away from tourist spots, and it’s making life difficult for those genuinely homeless. The Associated Press reports that Honolulu City Council recently approved several measures that will help it get rid of homeless people in touristy areas – including one that bans people from sitting and lying down on sidewalks in the popular surfing destination of Waikiki. They are also planning to move many of Oahu’s 4,700 homeless people to a temporary campsite on a remote, mostly industrial island that’s far removed from the resorts.
The council made the move under pressure from the tourism industry and hotel representatives, who say visitors frequently complain about their safety and human waste from the homeless who often use the sidewalks as bathrooms. “There’s an expectation for Waikiki. It’s a dream,” Helene “Sam” Shenkus, marketing director of the Royal Hawaiian Center told AP. “And because they’re families and it’s their money, they don’t have to come here.”
Unsurprisingly, critics of the laws say they essentially turn homeless people into criminals simply by having no place to live. “We’re helping the public to view the homeless as faceless people – not even people, but objects to sweep away,” Honolulu Councilman Breene Harimoto told AP after voting against the measure. “I’m very disturbed by this.” Jim Trevarthen, a former surf instructor and carpenter who is now homeless said, “They’re trying to harass everyone, and they’re doing a pretty good job of it.”
AP reports that Honolulu City Council is planning a program that will provide permanent housing for chronically homeless people in the area but it will be about a year before that is in place, so moving them to the camp on remote Sand Island is a temporary solution put in place until the plan goes forward.
Via Associated Press