'Homeless,' as a term, is useless
WE'RE never going to be able to solve the "homeless" problem in Hawaii until we agree that homelessness is not a problem.
The word "homeless" is the reason that nobody does anything about the possibly thousands of people living outdoors. If you think the problem is merely that these people don't have homes, then the obvious solution is to give them all homes. And you can't give everybody a home in Hawaii who wants a home because Hawaii is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. Land costs a ton of money, and homes do, too. And nobody -- the state, the city, the feds or even private enterprise -- wants to build homes for people who can't afford to live in them.
So let's stop using the term "homeless" and address the issue of all these people sleeping in parks, under bridges and now on the front lawn of the police station as what it actually is: a people problem. You don't solve people problems by treating all people the same.
THESE (whoops, almost said homeless again) people without indoor accommodations are that way for various and assorted reasons. Some are desperately poor and unable to get jobs. Some are poor and don't want jobs. Some are here from the mainland because Hawaii is beautiful, warm and generally dry (until recently), and it's better to live on the street here than in Detroit in the winter. Some are addicted to drugs or booze and just can't get their lives together. Some are mentally ill and can't take care of themselves. Some need help immediately, some can wait a while for help to arrive and some don't want help at all.
This people problem needs to be sorted out. I've always suggested we use the medical community's emergency process of triage. After a catastrophe, doctors use triage to determine which patients need immediate attention, which can wait and which are too far gone to merit any help.
It seems harsh but it works. We should use triage to sort these outdoor residents into categories and help (or not help) them accordingly. First would be people who need immediate aid, such as mothers with children. Then the mentally ill who can't take care of themselves. Then those who need longer-term help finding jobs or getting addiction treatment. Those who are just loafers who managed to scrape up enough money for a ticket to Hawaii should be given the boot back to where they came from. They aren't homeless, they're tourists.
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