Homelessness is on the decline across the United States, just not in Hawaii.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued its latest estimates on homelessness Thursday based on its annual point-in-time count.
And while many places throughout the country have watched their numbers dwindle, Hawaii’s continues to rise.
A homeless person sleeps on a picnic table in Waikiki.
PF Bentley/Civil Beat
HUD estimates that the state’s homeless population increased by 18 percent from 2010 to 2014, from 5,834 to 6,918. Nationwide, there has been a 10 percent decrease, from 640,466 to 578,424.
The state has struggled with how to help the homeless for years.
It’s just that now city and state officials appear poised to do something about it, launching a multimillion dollar initiative to get some of the most vulnerable homeless into in permanent housing.
Some of those same officials — particularly at the city — have made it clear that they don’t like seeing the homeless in public parks and on sidewalks.
So far this year the city has enacted new laws that prevent sitting and lying on sidewalks in Waikiki and that make it illegal to urinate or defecate in public.
That’s in addition to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “compassionate disruption” to sweep the homeless off the sidewalks and in some cases confiscate their possessions found unattended.
Caldwell has also proposed shuttling many of the city’s homeless to an encampment on Sand Island where they would have access to services.
But that proposal isn’t without controversy. For instance, there are concerns of toxic contamination at the site.
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