Going in circles on homelessness

Kakaako Makai Park 5.JPG

The newspaper had an interesting story on Tuesday about how a tent city for homeless people that Mayor Fasi authorized for Aala Park in the 1990s became a dangerous mess.  The camp was shut down after a group of campers went on a wild drunken rampage that included multiple attacks, robberies, and a brutal stabbing.

Fasi had authorized the camp to try to address a visible spike in homelessness, then abruptly shut it down after the melee.  Sound familiar?

It should, because Mayor Caldwell did the same thing 25 years later when he essentially authorized the big messy tent and shack village around the Children’s Discovery Center in Kakaako by stopping enforcement of laws against camping on public sidewalks there despite the village’s rapid growth, fueled the growth by cracking down on other illegal camping in Waikiki, then abruptly shut down the Kakaako village after some of its residents beat the crap out of a state legislator.

Have we learned nothing in 25 years?

But this time, it will be different, they say.  This time, they’ll authorize tent cities, actually manage them, and link them with social services.

That may be worth trying, but this crisis didn’t happen overnight.  Why did we just go in a big, stupid circle, only to get back to where we are now, still talking about doing something different, and still reacting with emergency declarations and hasty arrangements?

Why can’t our leaders seem to manage anything better than that?




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