Election reflection: Our homeless neighbors

There is no silver bullet to end homelessness on Kauai. And there are a million reasons people end up without a safe, dry place to sleep! Thank God we’re in warm, sunny Hawaii, where it never rains.

Over half of all residents on Kauai are one paycheck from the street! Based on “Affordability of Living” – Kauai is the worst county in the nation and we have the most crowded bedrooms. So many people end up losing their homes – from the “situational homeless” (lost a job, a house, financial, medical, etc.), to drug, alcohol, and mental illness.

But, regardless of the reasons, the impact of homelessness on our services and the economy are profound. The big questions we must ask are:

• What are we currently doing to reduce homelessness?

• Is it working?

• What can we do better … now, and in the future?

There are services available for the seriously mentally ill, families, children, women, veterans and native Hawaiians. Other support systems, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Social Security Supplemental Income are provided by the state and federal government.

The only shelter on Kauai has 38 beds in Lihue and operates from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. each day. Based on the latest statistics from HUD – that would make 255 homeless unsheltered on a given night! Most homeless just can’t get to services unless they’re close. And that shelter operates on a “first-come first-served” basis – so many don’t make the journey to Lihue in case the shelter is full.

What we need is at least three smaller shelters in other population centers. These shelters could offer bed reservations for those who occupied the bed on the previous night, even if they don’t have a job, so they could have a little consistency in their lives. This is done in other shelters and provides the individual or family a sense of security so they can focus on improving their situation.

Kauai used to have a day center next to the shelter, but there is currently nowhere for the homeless to go during the day. Sure … they can go to public facilities (such as the library) or shopping areas, but they are often asked to leave.

A “family assessment center” could include services such as a place to shower, do laundry and access necessary aid … or just find a moment of “rest from the rain.”

Although Kauai has an epidemic of methamphetamine use among the homeless, in addition to alcohol, heroin and other harmful drugs, there is only one, religious-based “in-patient treatment facility.” We desperately need that, not just for the homeless, but for the health and sanity of our island home.

For so many who are living in their cars, periodically harassed by police or others, we need to create safe parking areas. There is an organization in Los Angles County that does this, providing a safe place to park each night, restroom access, a security guard, and social service resources.

And if we could get more people sheltered consistently and transition them into permanent housing, we would save a lot of taxpayer money – in terms of emergency services, upkeep at public facilities (parks/beach), and other economic impacts.

And those who could find comfort in one of these shelters or safe zones have much better odds of getting back on their feet.

Truly affordable housing is crucial to avoid this tragedy. Local people are buying less than half the houses being sold and pulling 15 percent of building permits! And – without truly affordable housing – we can never solve homelessness.

Cities in America and around the world are very successfully experimenting with “Housing First.” Advocates of “Housing First” techniques have proven that those program cost taxpayers much less because participants are less likely to use the radically expensive emergency services.

Positive, effective social support systems are crucial – to take the pressure off of all of us, mostly our homeless neighbors! We must inspire our politicians to solve this problem.

Who are you voting for? And what do they think about this? Thank you for caring.


Jim Edmonds is founder of “Truly Affordable Homes, Kauai.”

  1. Charlie Chimknee October 30, 2018 8:54 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    Homelessness: Sadness for those if born and raised on Kaua’i, but why weren’t they educated early on how to survive, and if not wealthy enough perhaps they should have been trained in how to hui-up amongst friends and save up a down payment on a home that is on a lot with room to add rooms and share 5 house friends in 1 house…at least.

    5 people with solid jobs can save up a 20% down payment and pay mortgage on a small addon type home.

    If the youth save their money and not frivolously spend it they can buy a house as a hui…but cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and other foolish things make homelessness. It’s simple math with letters…A + B = C. If you cannot figure that out…see, you never got educated. What’s up with the schools.

    As more $ is saved by the hui and if safe to take on another property as wages increase, then their investment can be split and they buy another home , bring in another friend or family partner and have only 3 in a house. The 6 Can now add on more rooms to the newer purchased home and keep the HUI rolling along until each individual has his / her own home even 20 years later of paying down the mortgage.

    As the HUI spreads out, the empty bedrooms can go to their own other family or friends as tenants, to provide for taxes, insurance, upkeep. Main thing new ad ons need be all concrete block, which all of the hui can help with to construct, then no termites, dry rot, rust, Hurricane, Fire, etc., and it lasts 400 years for down line generations.

    Are our schools focusing on what is important for Kaua’i kids? If many are homeless they need some real estate training while young.

    If you are homeless and on Kaua’i less than 15-20 years maybe better to return to where you came from, certainly it is cheaper to live there than here and you should have family and friends there to lean on instead of burdening the tax payors on Kaua’i, especially if these homeless are into any kind substance abuse.

    Making housing free or ridiculous cheap via HUD and Section 8 only weakens people and makes a society worse. Homeless is synonymous with jobless, or not enough jobs, or hours per day. Farmers and business owners often work 12/7 and no complaint. 8/5 is for government jobs. If you want that, then apply. Otherwise get a job, or get another job, get more hours of same job, or get a ticket back to your origins, family, and friends.

    All these illegal immigrants in the US get jobs right away and work hard and are not homeless for the most part. The news videos of the immigrants coming from south of our border to the US are mostly young male workers coming to work and send their families money, they are not coming here for welfare.

    If they can find work, why can’t the unemployed or under employed find work? Lazy comes to mind. The heck with that why should we support them. We all know people in their 80’s still working, and if you don’t know any of them it is because they are working.

    If you get Public Assistsnce you should be made to work 10/6 at least, clean the parks, the beaches, the roads, be stationed at the recycle and refuse stations helping the tax payers unload their refuse, green waste, and sort their recycles. W O R K…is how you spell LUCK. Get Lucky…Get a Job…!



    1. Pete Antonson October 30, 2018 1:52 pm Reply

      What you actually know about real, not imagined, homeless could fit nicely on the head of a pin. Guess what? You can volunteer at the shelter! Please do so and have the veil lifted from your eyes!

  2. steve ball October 30, 2018 7:47 pm Reply

    Truly Affordable Homes, Kauai? Really? Must be a super secret one person group. Could not find it on the www.

  3. WestKauai October 30, 2018 10:23 pm Reply

    Many years ago, the County required people to work in the parks maintenance in order to receive benefits. They still had time to seek gainful employment, and some actually did…Now, I just don’t know…

  4. MisterM October 31, 2018 8:05 pm Reply

    “Although Kauai has an epidemic of methamphetamine use among the homeless, in addition to alcohol, heroin and other harmful drugs,…”

    So how can these drug addicts afford their drugs but not a roof over their heads? Perhaps a bit of hard love would be better than taxpayer handouts that only encourage their destructive antisocial behavior. Bums should be made to work – we’ve got a booming economy. Cleaning toilets, serving burgers doesn’t take training or education, just a willingness to work rather than being a leech on society.

  5. Charlie Chimknee October 31, 2018 10:52 pm Reply

    Helter Skelter, it’s the Kaua’i Homeñess Shelter…my comment above was intended to preclude shelters, but to hui up and prevent that need…no freebies, more work, less cigs alky dope meds.

    Akamai parents kids family friends hui up now, new comers who lean back at the beach no need apply…solid people get homes…


  6. John Zwiebel November 1, 2018 2:06 pm Reply

    Try a web search on this:
    “it is cheaper to house them than let them be homeless”

    I understand Charlie’s perspective and I have found that there are a lot of people who are (for want of a better word) “useless” (as in can’t even dig a hole). BUT, in general, I think most of the people who are homeless just fell onto bad luck (which includes many sub-categories — whatever you want to suggest). It isn’t fair to lump them all into the same bucket. But helping the Homeless get back on track benefits everyone. I support that.

    Charles seems to want to believe that he avoided being Homeless all by himself. I don’t think so.

    I am doing “OK***” but I clearly recall the moments in my life that were just “pure luck”, where had it gone a different way, I too might be homeless. Sure, I “did it all myself” but I was also a lucky SOB.

    *** “OK”: I’m a guy from Minnesota who lives on Kauai in a nice house, people from my hometown would call that “successful”. But when one realizes that only 3 people (I thought it was 8 but there was a report this morning that it is only 3) in the USA have as much wealth as the bottom half of Americans, “one” realizes that if the Oligarchs want what I “have” they will get it. Just ask about Zuckerberg’s “quiet title” operations on the north shore.

    (And just in case you missed it, the Republicans want to “do away with entitlements”, meaning Social Security and Medicare. They’re selling you a “line” that they can manage your money better than the government can. But if they screw up, are you going be happy with “oops” for an answer? They want to manage your money so they can skim 2 or 3 percent of the “net worth” (NOT the income) off the top. To make a simple example, let’s say you have $100 in an actively managed account of the type the Republicans are promoting. They will charge you “only” 1% of the value. But interest rates are low and only pay 1/2 of 1%. At the end of the year, your retirement account will have less money in it.)

    But let us all recall that the real problem is that there are just too many people in the world. I suppose I could help that if I were to allow a couple of families move in with me. I have no relatives in Hawaii, or even on the West Coast, do I get to have a choice in who lives with me? Yes, it was a ridiculous question asked to highlight a horrible situation.

    The obvious question is, “Who is going to pay for it”. The obvious answer is, “Those 3 people who own everything”.

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