Found this in my email, thought everyone would be interested in reading it. The letter was sent to the governor of the state about two years ago. Did he act on it?
Dear Governor ***********,
Once again I have had to read an article in the news about the homeless problem in Hawaii and as usual, the focus was on how the homeless are a problem for the people with homes and not how homelessness is a struggle for the homeless.
Hawaii should be ashamed of how it views homeless people (most of whom are kaamaina and war veterans). The program that was heralded as a success in the news paper article included tossing the homeless people’s worldly belongings into a dumpster and herding them into over-crowded, filthy, and under-supervised shelters. This proves to me that Hawaii does not only have a homeless problem, it is developing a heartless problem.
Here are some suggestions to help the homeless without hurting them:
1. Have an 800 number for them to call and get help on entering a shelter. And advertise it!
2. Streamline the TB testing and getting a ‘letter to prove you are homeless’ process. Can’t a case worker call the former spouse, or roommate, etc. and get a verbal verification. Why put some in the position of going back to the person that threw them out on the street and ask them to sign a paper to the effect?
3. Offer some transportation to the shelters. Some of these places are difficult to find and are in out of the way areas. If someone gets lost, they may just quit trying.
4. Supervise what is going on in the shelters. Some staff act as if they are dictators and will befriend the meanest residents, while abusing (or letting others abuse) the weakest.
5. Have a complaint box in the shelters and an 800 number to call and leave a grievance.
6. Have a homeless commission regularly check the boxes and take the calls. If the situations in the shelters would improve, less people would leave abruptly, and less people who have experienced the horrible treatment that would lock them into the chronically homeless category.
7. Get down to the beaches and parks and give out donated clothes and toiletries. Offer a bag lunch to those who get cleaned up.
8. Make being a bio-hazard a crime. If you are filthy and eliminating in public, you must be cleaned up. No negotiation! A mobile unit sent for them to shower and change would be a good idea.
9. Shelters should provide blank employment applications for the residents who voluntarily fill them out. Have the applications posted on a website. Make hiring a homeless person trendy and groovy… give the employers tax breaks. Promote the website to organizations who volunteer at the shelters. A hand up, instead of just a hand out. The initials and DOB can be used on the applications to preserve privacy.
10. Consider rent control. Many people can’t keep up with Hawaii’s quest to be sold to the highest bidder. The government can and should protect its residence from sinking to the bottom in this situation. Long time local residents are suffering.
11. Take a good look at the low income housing units. Focus on getting locals and citizens of this country housed, before inviting everyone else from the world to stay in these limited resources.
12. Require drug tests for shelter staff and intake workers. 75% would fail, but the government will at least be getting the message across that the state doesn’t want drug addicted staff favoring drug dealing residents; because, the staffers want to have a convenient drug connection. The state is unwittingly subsidizing drug dens masquerading as homeless shelters!
13. Before sending out a crew to throw everything someone owns into a dumpster, at least –please– implement some of these suggestions.
14. This one is the most important. Care. Give a damn. It could be you or someone you love. Someday. This is the Aloha State for God’s sake.
Someone who has been there and knows.