City teams with state for latest sidewalk sweep

Crews clear homeless from Kaakako, Waikiki

Published  4:59 PM HST Jul 18, 2013
HONOLULU -

Cracking down, cleaning up -- it was a team effort on Thursday.

The city brought along state workers on a homeless sweep of some parks and sidewalks.

Since July 1, Bill 7 allows city crews to remove private property from public sidewalks without a 24-hour notice.

On Thursday morning, Kakaako-area homeless got just 15 minutes and state crews joined in the sweep.

"The city owns the sidewalks and the roads and the state owns the grassy area and the parks and the parking lots," said city spokesperson Jesse Broder Van Dyke. "So, enforcement teams from both the city and the state are here, so that if people try to move from place to place there can be consistent enforcement."

Most moved their items, but some left things behind, either for crews to throw away or have them store them. But under the new law, it costs $200 to get items back. On July 10, the city began accepting requests that waive this fee.

"This isn't housekeeping service for those who are on the streets, this is a serious attempt to reach out and help people," said Marc Alexander, director of development for the Institute for Human Services (IHS).

In most sweeps, non-profits are on hand for outreach, according to the city. IHS said it's out at homeless sites almost every day with a psychiatrist.

"This kind of encourages them and reminds those who are on the street, that there is an option for them and it's a compassionate, helpful option that leads them to health, housing and if appropriate, employment," Alexander said.

A little after noon, just the city crew moved from Kakaako to Ala Moana Boulevard near the Ala Wai Canal.

"Nobody likes to be moved, and roused from where they're at and we understand that," said Jun Yang, executive director for the city Office of Housing. "But, the sidewalk is not a safe or appropriate place for anybody to live."

But many homeless told KITV4 News, a shelter doesn't give them the freedoms they want, like having a pet.

"What we're trying to do is to take these barriers down, to get people housed," Yang added. "So if it's not a shelter, can we we get a person into a housing unit, a rental unit. Something that is affordable to them."

By Thursday afternoon, at least four people were back on the sidewalks in Kakaako. The city said it will be consistent with its sweeps each week.

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