Lawmakers Told by Governor’s & Mayor’s Office that Roundup of Homeless Will Not Occur Prior to the APEC Summit

Media Release:

The House Human Services chair, Rep. John Mizuno, announced today that the state and county (Honolulu) will not seek a “sweep” or “roundup” of the homeless in Waikiki prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November 2011.

REPS. BROWER, MANAHAN, CABANILLA, MIZUNO, AWANA, AND COFFMAN AT THE LEGISLATIVE BRIEFING WITH MARC ALEXANDER - THE STATE HOMELESS COORDINATOR & BRIDGET PALMER HOLTHUS OF THE HONOLULU DEPT. OF COMMUNITY SERVICES.

REPS. BROWER, MANAHAN, CABANILLA, MIZUNO, AWANA, AND COFFMAN AT THE LEGISLATIVE BRIEFING WITH MARC ALEXANDER - THE STATE HOMELESS COORDINATOR & BRIDGET PALMER HOLTHUS OF THE HONOLULU DEPT. OF COMMUNITY SERVICES.

In November, Waikiki will be the center stage for the APEC Summit, before 21 APEC nations and 2,500 journalists.  In an effort to avoid a possible sweep or roundup of homeless in preparation for APEC, the House Committees on Housing and Human Services held a legislative briefing today seeking to secure a plan for a safe zone for the homeless.

During the briefing, Mufi Hannemann (former Mayor of Honolulu), representing the Hotel & Lodging Association, concurred with lawmakers that a “sweep” of homeless in the Waikiki area prior to APEC would look bad for Hawaii.  Mr. Hannemann also pledged support by the hotel association to lawmakers and stakeholders in finding both a short-term and long-term solution to reducing homelessness.

LAWMAKERS TOLD BY GOVERNOR'S & MAYOR'S OFFICE THAT ROUNDUP OF HOMELESS WILL NOT OCCUR PRIOR TO THE APEC SUMMIT

LAWMAKERS TOLD BY GOVERNOR'S & MAYOR'S OFFICE THAT ROUNDUP OF HOMELESS WILL NOT OCCUR PRIOR TO THE APEC SUMMIT

At the briefing, Rep. Mizuno read the email from Chad Buck, the Owner and CEO of the Hawaii Foodservice Alliance and the biggest individual donor (over 400,000 lbs.) of food to the Hawaii Food Bank:  “I support this effort to provide a safe zone for our homeless citizens in need and applaud the efforts by Representative Mizuno to reach out to coordinate the efforts from government, non-profits and the business community. As a business owner and resident, I recognize that the homeless issues that we face will only be solved when we stop relying on just the government. If businesses, non-profits, faith based initiatives and government agencies all join hands, the solutions will come both for the short and long term.”

At the briefing, Marc Alexander, State Homeless Coordinator & Bridget Palmer Holthus, Deputy Director of the Honolulu Department of Community Services, both confirmed their focus in reducing homelessness was on 1)  Affordable Housing, 2) Permanent Housing Solutions for homeless, and 3) Job Development.

“Today was extremely important, because we obtained a commitment from the Governor’s Office and Mayor’s Office that no “sweep” or “roundup” of the homeless in Waikiki will occur prior to or during APEC, said Rep. Mizuno. “Moreover, we confirmed support from the hotel industry and a major food distributor willing to help government in its efforts to reducing homelessness.  Today we gained concurrence with state, county, non-profits, private businesses, and faith based organizations willing to work together to better address homelessness.  A viable solution for our “safe zones” for homeless will be to expand our current homeless shelters, possibly in Kakaako and Kalaeloa, to accept some of the estimated 200 homeless in Waikiki.  These shelters provide homeless with a secured facility to sleep at night, showers, restrooms, meals, healthcare, and workforce development.”

“We have homeless with a mental illness and/or drug addiction who will refuse to go to a shelter and some are homeless by choice, so realistically we will always have a percentage of chronically homeless,” added Rep. Mizuno.  “Working together in a coordinated effort with all the stakeholders allows us greater ability to prove assistance to homeless who desire to transition back into the community.  We offer hope to those that seek it.”

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