Why Park & Sleep Residential Campgrounds Could Turn the Chaos of Homelessness  Into a Manageable Problem Virtually Overnight.

​​​​Current policy is largely based on the theory that our only option is to subsidize more affordable housing for the economic homeless, and subsidize  “Housing First” for the impaired homeless.  (Traditional housing programs required sobriety or mental health treatment as a prerequisite to housing.[1] "Housing First" works by giving drug addicted and mentally ill homeless an opportunity to get “[A]ffordable housing with supportive services” before mental health, substance abuse, medical and employment needs are addressed.[2]) From 2011 through 2012, in  mainland communities where Housing First was implemented, chronic homelessness was reduced by 6.8%.[3] Housing First programs generally work, but only if beneficiaries agree to participate and are compliant with program rules.[4] A San Diego Study showed that provision of both housing and treatment did not result in improvements for 40% of those with mental illness or substance-related disorders because they refused to abide by the terms of the program.[5] The bottom line is that we need a program to supplement subsidized housing and Housing First.


The high cost of living in Hawaii has made many financially vulnerable people homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  The traditional solution is to build more affordable housing.  This is generally accomplished in three ways: (1) By making deals with developers to set aside a certain portion of their developments as affordable. (2) By government subsidies. (3) A combination of government subsidies, private developer set-asides and tax incentives.   There is no question that some homeless people have been transitioned into permanent housing because of these programs. The point is that building traditional and even some alternative housing is time consuming and expensive to construct; These are  immutable economic forces which make demand invariably exceed supply. 


For example, 26 sea containers on Sand were transformed into alternative transitional dwellings for the homeless. The program is a great success.   But even if the Sand Island facility program was expanded exponentially, we'd still need residential campgrounds. Sand Island is designed to serve only those homeless who are “housing ready”, and “serious” about getting their lives together.  That means they are not for the hard-core chronic homeless who are mentally ill, drug addicted, nor for  those who choose to be homeless. Also, the process of creating the facility took years.  Conversely, residential campgrounds could create safe, comfortable, low-cost dwelling spaces for thousands virtually overnight. [6]

What we're doing doesn't make sense.  Since we don't have enough "affordable housing", current policies allow for only two options: A. Shelters, or B. Camping illegally.  The City of Honolulu spends about three quarters of a million dollars a year on sweeps, which fail to motivate  80% of  the homeless to live in shelters, while driving them from one illegal camp to another.[7]  

In Hawaii, where daytime winter temperatures are in the low eighties, a transitional "home" does not have to be a house or an apartment. A transitional home with supportive service can be provided to a person in a tent, a prefabricated shed, or even a car parked in a clean place with sufficient amenities. Residential campgrounds must have hygienic facilities, a place to lock valuables and an address to receive mail.  Residents must also have access to public transportation.  Supportive services such as outpatient psychiatric and medical care, drug rehabilitation, and vocational training would also all be provided.  Current programs to transition the homeless to permanent housing could also continue.  Those who want help can get it, and those who don’t could continue to live the way they choose in places where they would not destroy the quality of life for others.


Why Residential Campgrounds and “Park and Sleep” Facilities Should be Established in Industrial Areas, not in Residential, Tourist and Retail Commercial Neighborhoods.

—“Not in my back yard.”

We have to be honest:  Chronic willfully homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill individuals who refuse assistance are destroying our quality of life.   For example, in Honolulu alone, officials report confiscating 10 tons of rubbish every week, abandoned on the sidewalks by the chronic homeless.
[9]  


While consuming scarce social-service resources, drug addicted, mentally ill and willfully  homeless people drive away tourists[10] whose spending pays for the very social services upon which they depend.[11] George Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association lamented about complaints from visitors;  “I saw a guy sleeping in the little cubby hole of the Burberry store.  He was half-naked, had just defecated as you could see it and visitors were taking pictures of him,” said Szigeti.[12] “You have to remain compassionate, but you can’t ignore there’s a problem. . . . . We’ve had visitors [say] they’ve been coming to Hawaii for 15 years but they’re not coming back anymore because of the homeless.”[13]  A comment about Honolulu’s Chinatown from a tourist on Trip Advisor website said: “Yes after dark there will be plenty of homeless people around the bus stops and some alcoholics . . . ”[14]

We must therefore establish supportive “Park and Sleep” facilities and residential campgrounds in industrial neighborhoods where recalcitrant homeless can't destroy the quality of life for residents and tourists..  We’ve located literally hundreds of acres of undeveloped State, City and Federal land on Oahu on Sand Island, Mapunapuna and Barber’s Point, where the chronic Homeless would be far better off there than they are now.  Currently, most un-sheltered mentally ill, substance addicted or willfully homeless individuals live in deplorable filth.
[15]  Many are afflicted with scabies and body lice; They are at risk of contracting diseases such as diphtheria, typhus, tuberculosis, HIV,[16]and necrotizing fasciitis, the so-called “flesh-eating bacteria”.[17]  Un-sheltered homeless are also at greater risk of being victims of crimes including murder.[18]   Legal "Park and Sleep" Residential Campgrounds would provide a quick, cost-effective practical solution.


Footnotes:

[1] Opening Doors:  Chronic Homelessness, United States Interagency on Homelessness, Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness (2010), available at http://usich.gov/usich_resources/fact_sheets/opening_doors_chronic_homelessness
[2] Id.
[3] National Alliance to End Homelessness, Homelessness Research Institute, The State of Homelessness in America 10, at 3  (April, 2013) available at http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/the-state-of-homelessness-2013
[4] Opening Doors,  supra
[5] Carol L. Pearson, Gretchen Locke, Ann Elizabeth Montgomery, Larry Buron, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research, The Applicability of Housing First Models to Homeless Persons With Serious Mental Illness:  Final Report vi, xviii & 80 at 83(July, 2007) (where the conduct of some impaired homeless individuals made “Housing First” untenable).
[6] See  Ramsay Wharton, Sunrise Reporter, Homeless facility made out of retrofitted shipping containers opens in Sand Island, Hawaii News Now, Nov. 20, 2015,  available at http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/30559559/homeless-facility-made-out-of-retrofitted-shipping-containers-opens-in-sand-island
[7] Rudy Kaneya, Endless Sweep:  City Keeps Rousting Homeless at a Cost of $750,000 a Year; Honolulu Civil Beat, July 22, 2015, available at  http://www.civilbeat.org/2015/07/swepr-away-city-keeps-rousting-homeless-at-a-cost-of750000-a-year/
[8] Jessica Terrell, This Waianae Homeless Camp is Not What You’d Expect, Honolulu Civil Beat, Nov. 16 2016, available at http://www.civilbeat.org/2015/11/this-waianae-homeless-camp-is-not-what-youd-expect/
[9] Adam Nagourney, Honolulu Shores Up Tourism With Crackdown on Homeless, N.Y. Times, June 23, 2014, at A13, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/23/us/honolulu-shores-up-tourism-with-crackdown-on-homeless.html?_r=0
[10] Valerie Richardson, The Ugly Side of Paradise:  Hawaii Tries to Shoo Away Homeless with Free, One-Way Tickets to Mainland, Wash. Times, Aug. 27, 2013, available at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/27/free-tickets-from-paradise-hawaii-tries-to-shoo-aw/#ixzz37luUqU84
[11] Hawai`i Tourism Authority,http://www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/default/assets/File/May%202014%20Visitor%20Stats%20Press%20Release%20(final).pdf    (last visited July 20, 2014), National Alliance to End Homelessness, Homelessness Research Institute, The State of Homelessness in America 10 (April, 2013) available at  http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/the-state-of-homelessness-2013, SÈKÈNÈ Badiaga, Didier Raoult & Philippe Brouqui, Centers for Disease Control, Emerging Infectious Diseases Vol. 14 No. 9 Preventing and Controlling Emerging and Reemerging Transmissible Diseases in the Homeless 1356 (Anne Mather ed., 2008) available at http://www.cdc.gov/eid
[12] Stacy Yuen, Homelessness in Waikiki:  Many of Waikiki’s Homeless Are Mainland Snowbirds, Hawai`i Business Magazine, Jan. 2014, available at http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/Hawaii-Business/January-2014/Homelessness-in-Waikiki/
[13] Id.
[14] Very Colorful; Full of Homeless;  Review of [Honolulu’s] Chinatown, Trip Advisor .Com (Mar. 19,2014)  http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60982-d255241-r198091251-Chinatown-Honolulu_Oahu_Hawaii.html (last visited July 20, 1014)
[15] National Alliance to End Homelessness, Homelessness Research Institute, The State of Homelessness in America 10 (April, 2013) available at http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/the-state-of-homelessness-2013
[16] Sekene Badiaga, Didier Raoult & Philippe Brouqui, Centers for Disease Control, Emerging Infectious Diseases Vol. 14 No. 9 Preventing and Controlling Emerging and Reemerging Transmissible Diseases in the Homeless 1356 (Anne Mather ed., 2008) available at http://www.cdc.gov/eid
[17] Poverty Kills;  Flesh-Eating Disease in Homeless Signals a Broader Problem Shelter Head Says, Canadian Broadcasting Company Radio , Mar. 25, 2014 at 10:00 AM EST, available at http://www.cbc.ca/news/poverty-kills-1.2585412  
[18] Crimes Against America’s Homeless:  Is the Violence Growing?:  Hearing before the Subcomm. on Crime and Drugs of the S. Comm. on the Judiciary, 111th Cong. Hearing no. 111-915, ser. no. J-111-112 at 1 (Mar. 29, 2010) (statement of Sen. Cardin, Member S. Comm. on the Judiciary).