Huddled in the Rubble of Consequence

Aug 30, 2015 | PC Community

Huddled in the Rubble of Consequence is how I see the current homeless situation in Kakaako that has grown to be possibly the largest and most condensed homeless encampment on public streets in America. My heart goes out to those who wish for a better life and also to those who are in desperate need of medical help. Thank you for logging in to the following MYPC cover story.

I recently made the journey to Kakaako to see firsthand the homeless encampment near the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Children’s Discovery Center. The view as I drove through the area was overwhelming and maybe best defined as being riddled with despair as the long line of makeshift shelters and debris field of personal belongings cluttered the sidewalks as the homeless street dwellers linked together, venerable to the beating sun, wind, rain and one another.

The fragility of life on the street, and the reality of surviving under the unfortunate circumstances that forces someone into being homeless, presented me with mixed emotions as I drove past a young mother who was sitting on the sidewalk in front or her tent while holding a baby under one arm and attempting to feed her other two children, who at that time of the day, should have instead been in an elementary school cafeteria lunch line somewhere in the area.

I continued to drive through the streets of the encampment and came upon a very dark stretch of sidewalk dwellers. There was an immediate, intense rush of insecurity along with an intimidating sense of reality that your safety could be compromised at any moment if you choose it to be. The message presenting itself in front of me, while hanging thick in the Kakaako air was that the tent dwelling inhabitants watch and protect their possessions from outsiders as well as from within 24/7.

Those living in the Kakaako encampment, which was reported in early August to be at around 293, will soon reach a pinnacle point and defining moment in their stake of prime Kakaako sidewalk real estate as the crisis enters a new phase with the recent announcement that the city has set September 8, 2015 as the date for the first round of sweeps to dismantle the encampment and clear the sidewalks. The September 8th sweep, as announced by the city, will start with notices given out on Monday to the homeless living on the outer edges between Cooke and Ohe Streets.

Governor Ige’s Leadership Team on Homelessness has spent the past five weeks reviewing the facts and figures with regards to the demographic breakdown of the homeless who occupy the Kakaako encampment. The team is fully aware that the removal process will have its challenges in insuring that the homeless are provided shelter, food and basic needs if they choose government assistance. Recent comments from the Governor’s office is that there is shortage of available shelter space to accommodate the Kakaako homeless population.

Monday’s sweeps is a bit disheartening for those who feel that they have no other option but to live and survive on the street in Kakaako and in many cases with their families that include children. At the same time, it will be a victory for those who wish to take back the streets and return the area to being a clean, safe and healthy environment in which to live, work, play and visit.

As Kakaako expands and grows into the future, the neighborhood’s vision and destiny brokered by the powers to be, will be responsible for the inevitable rise and transition into the ultimate land of luxury with mega millionaire’s progressively establishing themselves as the new owners and occupants of a pricey piece of real estate that will offer all the amenities while enjoying and living the good life in paradise that exists just a stone’s throw away from where the homeless sweeps will take place.

In our very own Pearl City community, homelessness exists in certain areas, mainly in lower Pearl City, along the Pearl Harbor Bike Path and under the H1 Freeway. A few years ago, the homeless living along the bike path near Neal Blaisdell Park, as well as the park itself were swept. Crime and drug use in the homeless encampments threatened the safety of bike path and park users.

Annual efforts by the city, community organizations, businesses and schools help to clean up and beautify portions of the bike path in Aiea, Pearl City and Waipahu.  The annual Pearl Harbor Bike Path Clean-up Project is an example of the commitment made through partnerships to maintain several miles of the bike path as well as the Pearl Harbor shoreline. 

But, with all the efforts put forth to beautify the bike path and shoreline, the homelessness crisis still exists. Through the years, community volunteers have expressed their compassion for the welfare of the homeless and their families by generously donating hot meals a few times a week to help feed the men, women and children in need in the area, with most of them driving to the food distribution point in the family automobile that also serves as their home.    

My prayers are with the homeless population in Hawaii that is estimated to number around 5000. I pray that they stay safe and well protected as this week’s storms approach the islands and possibly threatens their safety.

May God Bless.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Kakaako homeless encampment.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Homelessness is present in lower Pearl City pictured here at

Pacheco Park on Waimano Home Road and Kamehameha Highway. | [email protected]

Annual efforts by the city, community organizations, businesses and schools help to clean up,

beautify and maintain portions of the Pearl Harbor Bike Path and shoreline in Aiea, Pearl City

and Waipahu. HECO volunteers are pictured here picking rubbish along the bike path near

the Waiau Power Plant in Pearl City during a Pearl Harbor Bike Path Clean-up Day. | [email protected]

Pearl Harbor Shoreline in Pearl City near Neil Blaisdell Park