City to consider bills against illegal camping and storage on all public property

HONOLULU—Mayor Mufi Hannemann responded to issues discussed at the City’s recent Forum on Homelessness and announced proposals for addressing “chronic homelessness” linked to mental illness, illegal camping, and related problems on city property.

The forum, held on June 29 at the Mission Memorial Auditorium, attempted to identify priorities and strengthen relationships among government and service providers.

Based on the 2010 “Point In Time Count,” houselessness has slightly increased on Oahu.

“There are, however, a growing number of people who are chronically homeless, and services for this group are limited,” the City said in a statement. “Hawaii has a law—which has never been used—that allows involuntary outpatient treatment via the civil court system for people with severe mental disorders. The city plans to pursue a test case to help establish a system whereby individuals who are chronically homeless and severely mentally ill may be assisted via this involuntary outpatient treatment law.”

The City pursuing plans to construct supportive housing on River Street or another location with community support. If the River Street location is not viable, the City will work with the State and community to identify another location, Hannemann said.

The City said it is also open to the concept of a “safe zone” for houseless campers in a location with community support. Such a zone would allow long-term camping and provide basic sanitation and safety services.

To ensure the success of a safe zone, the City suggests that such a location:

·      Must be safe, and therefore must have rules;
·      Must have staffing/security to ensure enforcement of rules;
·      Must have access to sanitation facilities;
·      Must forbid drugs and alcohol;
·      Should welcome homeless people with pets;
·      Would likely need to charge fees to offset operating costs; and
·      Should be operated by a private service provider or entity.

Hannemann said the administration would also ask the City Council to approve two new bills that would prohibit unlawful camping on all public property, including sidewalks and medial strips; and would establish a procedure for the removal and disposition of personal property stored illegally in public spaces.

The City has has planned a “homeless sweep” for houseless campers at what is known as “Guardrails” along the Waianae Coast on July 19.