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Honolulu eighth 'meanest' in treatment of homeless


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POSTED: Sunday, July 19, 2009

Two national homeless advocacy groups rank Honolulu as the eighth meanest city in the nation because of its treatment of the homeless.

The report criticized city officials for their efforts in the last three years to close Kapiolani Park and beach parks on the Leeward Coast to camping and for shutting down parks and sending police to evict homeless campers.

“;The ban on overnight sleeping has not worked,”; the report said. “;Homeless individuals simply stay up at night and sleep during the day, making it even more difficult for them to find employment.”;

The report also noted efforts to make it a crime to sleep at a bus stop.

The report was the result of a survey of 273 cities by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless. The national ranking is based on a number of factors, including the number of anti-homeless laws in the city and its general political climate toward homeless people.

Los Angeles was ranked as the nation's meanest city for its 2-year-old police crackdown on Skid Row.

The so-called Safe City Initiative targets the homeless by making it illegal to sleep, eat or sit in public spaces in the 50-square-block area of downtown. The report said the crackdown results in 1,000 citations a month.

“;Homelessness in America is a human-rights crisis right here at home,”; said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. “;As foreclosures continue and the recession deepens, the crisis is affecting more and more Americans. ... Too often, as documented in our report, cities adopt unjust laws and practices that punish people simply for being poor and homeless.”;

The Associated Press contributed to this report.