Criminalizing homelessness in HawaiiUPDATED 10:38 PM HST Aug 26, 2014Video Transcript
Are they needed measures to clear city streets of the homeless, or will they criminalize the most vulnerable? Just days before the five bills are heard by the city council, a petition is being passed around to help protect Hawaii's poorest from becoming criminals. KITV4's Paul Drewes explains. As the sun sets in Waikiki, many of Hawaii's homeless are getting ready for another night of sleeping on the sidewalks. Including Chantelle and Josh, who are newly homeless and spending their first night in Waikiki. josh@14:43 "i just lost my job, and i have a lot of bills, and i got kicked out 3 days ago" Sleeping, sitting or lying on the sidewalks could soon be illegal if a bunch of bills are passed by the city council. That doesn't sit right with some of the homeless and their advocates. xian@:35-:51 "the sidewalks are the last place homeless can exist, without penalty. Its illegal in parks, beaches , cars so sidewalks are the last resort" Some feel it is not fair to force homeless from the sidewalks without enough places for them to go and want housing first before the sidewalks are cleared. josh@14:17 "i don't think the upper class gives a s about what happens to the lower class, as long as the area they live in look presentable" The number of homeless in Hawaii is growing, and many admit something needs to be done but will the additional crimes force some of these residents into places they don't want to go? 3:13-3:25 its not fair for the city to scapegoat the most disenfranchised, the extreme poor and blame them for the downturn of the economy. they've been dehumanized, they've been treated badly chantelle@19:10-19:29 "its hard, thinking about what comes next, food, money and worry stuff doesn;t get stolen. Its just a very scary situation to go through." Along with questioning the effectiveness of the five bills, concerns have also been raised about the costs to enforce them along with the constitutionality of the measures. 1:49 "they're really ineffective what they do is waste taxpayer dollars in the arrest and court processes and they prolong homelessness itself" Kathryn's petition on change.org has already received nearly 400 signatures. It aims to stop the five bills once and for all. Some of the measures call for limiting where homeless can sit, lay or sleep either in Waikiki, certain business areas or island-wide. They will all be heard this thursday morning at Honolulu Hale.