Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Honolulu Council Expands Ban after Complaints about Homeless

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Honolulu Council Expands Ban after Complaints about Homeless

Article excerpt

HONOLULU - The Honolulu City Council voted to expand a ban on sitting and lying on sidewalks in an ongoing struggle to deal with homelessness that followed complaints from tourists about too many transients living near the beach. The council approved two bills Wednesday extending the ban to pedestrian malls and the banks of city-owned streams, even though some members acknowledged the restrictions are ineffective and just pushing people around.

Honolulu originally banned sitting and lying down in the hotspot Waikiki under pressure from the tourism industry. At the time, there were plans to create a safe zone for camping in an industrial part of the city, but that plan stalled.

Now city and state officials are looking for additional sites to provide shelter. In the meantime, business owners and residents in other parts of Honolulu have complained about an influx of homeless people to their districts, leading to more bans.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness says Hawaii has the nation's second-highest number of homeless people per capita. The issue gained attention after state Rep. Tom Brower was attacked at a homeless encampment that grew to shelter hundreds of people after they were pushed out of neighborhoods.

like Waikiki.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who supports the bans, said because there was no designated place for displaced homeless people to go after leaving Waikiki, they just moved across the canal into her district. She said the bans aren't solving the problem, but she continues to support them.

"People are just moving wherever they can, and it's disrupting neighborhoods and local small businesses, Kobayashi said in an interview. "We have to keep doing it piecemeal, because people kept moving to other areas.

Critics say the bans are criminalizing homelessness and not solving the problem.

"This is just a band-aid approach to the issue and only moves them around, and it makes it quite difficult for our brothers and sisters who are homeless to get back on their feet, said Councilman Brandon Elefante, who voted against the bills. …

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