More homeless sweeps along H-1, Nimitz Hwy. coming in 2018
The state says its committed to conducting more homeless encampment sweeps along the H-1 Freeway and Nimitz Highway corridors in 2018.
HONOLULU - It's hard not to miss tent cities lining Nimitz Highway and H1 freeway corridors.
The state says come 2018, it's committed to conducting more sweeps.
Right now, sweeps occur about three times a week. Officials want to increase that number to five.
The Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness presented a number of strategies on how to better handle what some call a growing crisis.
State, federal and community groups at the table agree consistent communication between agencies is vital.
"Instead of just sending somebody through court and having them have more charges be on their criminal record, we want to create an opportunity to divert people from the criminal justice system and then come to shelter, case management, treatment resources- things that can help them get out of the situation of homelessness," Scott Morishige, State Housing Coordinator said.
Since July, state agencies have encountered more than 500 homeless on O'ahu.
50 in Aiea and along Pearl Harbor Bike Path and 20 that were living along the H1 freeway.
The majority were found in Urban Honolulu. The area under the Nimitz Viaduct is completely cleared out these days.
But that wasn't the case just a few months ago when close to 200 people called the hideaway home.
According to the state, at least 98 homeless from the area were placed into shelter or housing.
One of the dilemmas of getting some to the shelter were those unwilling to give up their pets.
Outreach crews say one woman had 60 animals. The department of health says it has started coordinating with animal shelters.
"Once they know that their dogs are safe and ok and they're fostered integrate homes, it helps them to want to get help and assistance," Yara Sutton, Department of Health homeless and housing service coordinator said.
State representative Cedric Gates says ongoing sweeps in Honolulu usually result in more homeless moving to his district in Leeward O'ahu.
The freshman legislator represents the Wai'anae Coast and suggested the council reconsider safe zones.
"With the increase of homelessness across our state and issues spilling over into other communities that weren't impacted from homelessness before that, now we can really start having a real discussion about how do we implement the safe zones and how do you make it beneficial for our entire state," Gates said.