Gov. Lingle addressed Waianae residents Tuesday on the issue of homeless people living in the area. At a news conference yesterday, she promised a multiyear effort to address the problem in cooperation with the city, private groups and perhaps the military.
Lingle pledges Waianae shelters
The governor vows to set up homeless accommodations by the year's end
The state will set up emergency shelters for homeless along the Leeward Coast by the end of the year, Gov. Linda Lingle pledged yesterday.
Lingle, who listened to homeless people, advocates and Leeward residents for three hours Tuesday evening, says the state will work with the city, private groups and perhaps the military to address the homeless population.
"It is a big problem but we are up to it," Lingle said yesterday in a meeting with reporters at her state Capitol office.
Homeless residents first need safe and clean emergency shelters and then transitional centers that can help residents find jobs or where they can go for treatment of medical or mental issues. And finally, affordable rental program are needed, Lingle said.
"It will be a multiyear project because we need affordable housing, but between now and the end of the year, we can have substantial emergency shelters set up along the Leeward coast," Lingle said.
Gov. Linda Lingle got a hug Tuesday from surfer Sam Pae of Maili at Waianae District Park during a meeting on the plight of the homeless. Lingle listened for hours as the overflow crowd suggested ways to deal with the thousands of homeless people living in the area.
Where exactly shelters would be placed was still a question yesterday.
Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, called Lingle yesterday to suggest that there might be land available at Kalaeloa, the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station site.
Others suggested vacant federal land at Lualualei could be used, and Lingle said there was commercial property in Waianae that might be available.
"We need to take this one bite at a time, but we need to move forward," Lingle said.
Rep. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Waianae-Makua), who attended the meeting Tuesday in Waianae, said there were concerns among the homeless that they "did not want to be warehoused" and instead needed programs to help them get jobs and government services.
Lingle said her administration is talking with city officials who have announced closing Leeward beach parks for repairs starting in two months. Lingle urged the city to work with her, noting that the Legislature has given the city $2 million to be used for emergency housing.
"It would be a big mistake to go off in a unilateral fashion. If there are fewer beach parks available, the homeless are going to go outside businesses or people's homes, but they will remain in the community, so hopefully the city will work with us," Lingle said.
Lingle also said it was difficult for her to listen to the stories of the homeless.
"As an elected official, it is difficult for me to admit that things had gotten to this point in the state of Hawaii. I am proud of almost everything about our state, but this is something to be ashamed of and not be proud of.
"It is difficult to listen to people how bad the situation has become," Lingle said.
Those who are homeless and those who work with the homeless should not despair, she said.
"They have reason to be hopeful. This is a problem we can solve. We think by bringing people and resources together, this is something we are committed to," Lingle said.