This week marks two solid years since the mayor announced with great fanfare during the heat of his wobbly re-election campaign that the City and County of Honolulu was spending $6.3 million of taxpayer money to open a new “state of the art” homeless center in Iwilei.
It still hasn’t opened, and nobody seems to care much whether it ever will.
That’s a real shame, because the services that the nascent center are now supposed to provide are still desperately needed. (After publicly announcing that the center would provide drop-in hygiene services like showers and laundry machines, counseling and referrals, and maybe some transitional housing, the entire premise for the center was later quietly changed to that of a medical facility to keep the homeless from clogging hospital emergency rooms with health problems that worsen as they remain untreated.)
Meanwhile, the media stuck to the script provided to them yesterday regarding the expansion of the city’s Hale Mauliola transitional shelter on Sand Island and extension of the “temporary” shelter’s lease for four more years. (The Board of Land and Natural Resources actually extended the lease nearly one month ago at a public meeting, but the media are only announcing it now that’s it’s been spoon-fed to them by the mayor and the governor at a dog-and-pony show.)
“Out of 556 people who left Hale Mauliola, nearly half — or 267 — have moved on to ‘stable housing,'” chirps the newspaper.
So more than half have not “moved on to ‘stable housing'” — whatever that even means — and nobody bothered to ask what happened to the rest: they got kicked out of the shelter or just went back to the streets.
Note that the four-year extension is longer than the three-year original lease. The giant Next Step shelter in Kakaako was supposed to be temporary too, “for at least six months,” and that was 12 years ago.
Still, both shelters seem to be doing some good work, and they’re certainly better than nothing, which is all we have so far for the $6.3 million “state-of-the-art” Iwilei center.
Why isn’t the mayor keeping the taxpaying public informed about this? And why aren’t the media asking about it?
I guess we’ll just have to keep waiting for the next dog-and-pony show.