Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Can Homeless Be Put in Camps in Cane Fields?

May 8, 2017, 11:42 AM HST
* Updated May 8, 12:27 PM
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Homelessness in Hawaiʻi. Photo at The Salvation Army on Kamehameha Avenue in Kahului, April 8, 2014, by Wendy Osher.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

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Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

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Hey Mayor:

Q: Why they cannot take a portion of the sugar cane field and fence it off and make a camp for the homeless? Put some porta potties in and go around and round up the homeless and put them there.

A: While I can certainly understand and relate to your frustration, I would gather from your question that your area of expertise does not lie within the social services field. Our laws do not permit us to simply “round up” people simply for being houseless. The last time that happened in our country some of my own family members were placed in internment camps—and that is a chapter of our nation’s history I would definitely not want to see repeated. Rather, we are working as a partnership with other government agencies and nonprofits to offer services to homeless individuals and families who need help and working with Police to enforce laws when homeless individuals cause safety and health issues.

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Please know that the state, along with this county, has adopted the “Housing First” approach to end homelessness. While a comprehensive explanation of this approach would be too detailed for this column, it is clear that Housing First is positively impacting many other municipalities, not only in the U.S. but around the world.

This approach is a long-term, permanent solution—not a band-aid fix as is often suggested and even promoted by ill-advised folks with good intentions.

Ending homelessness on Maui will take a well-coordinated effort by all the participating agencies and individuals involved and an even stronger political will.

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