Homeless on Waikiki Beach: Why not give people dignity in work?

Homeless in Hawaii sounds exotic, but it has become an emergency for the Aloha State. Homeless citizens are residing on sidewalks, parks, filthy neighborhoods, public bathrooms, tourist beach facilities. Among the homeless population are a record number of minors, some started to turn to criminal activities in Waikiki. Waikiki is the center of tourism and the economic engine of Hawaii. Many hotels say "Not our problem." It will be a problem when tourists select other sand and sea destinations. In a State like Hawaii Tourism is everyone's problem, what seems to be often not realized.

Homeless on Waikiki Beach: Why not give people dignity in work?

Homeless in Hawaii sounds exotic, but it has become an emergency for the Aloha State.
Homeless citizens are residing on sidewalks, parks, filthy neighborhoods, public bathrooms, tourist beach facilities. Among the homeless population are a record number of minors, some started to turn to criminal activities in Waikiki. Waikiki is the center of tourism and the economic engine of Hawaii. Many hotels say “Not our problem.” It will be a problem when tourists select other sand and sea destinations. In a State like Hawaii Tourism is everyone’s problem, what seems to be often not realized.

On May 10 the Honolulu City Council was asked to support a beautification bill to employ homeless people for clean up programs.

Why not give homeless people a job with dignity. Why not have super clean and maintained beach showers and toilets maintained by a self-employed homeless person able to build a business keeping facilities clean. Insiders told eTN. “Not possible in Hawaii because of unions.”  Perhaps the key should be “self-employed.”

The pending request to the Honolulu City council is based on the “There’s a better way initiative” by Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The campaign is based on the principles.

  1. Give people dignity in work
  2. Connect individuals with services
  3. Collective Impact to end panhandling
  4. Help the Community to understand “There’s a Better Way”

With an initial budget in Albuquerque, the City’s Solid Waste Department is able to drive to areas frequented by panhandlers and offer them day labor, such as landscape beautification and garbage removal. Pay for the work is $9 an hour.

After their work day is complete, passengers are transported back to an emergency shelter to house them overnight as needed.

The initiative in Honolulu reads as follows:

WHEREAS, city beautification programs, which may involve activities such as trash, litter, and graffiti removal, improve the livability of our community and the accessibility of public right-of-ways; and

WHEREAS, jurisdictions in the U.S. have undertaken beautification programs that employ homeless individuals, providing such individuals with jobs and access to social services; and WHEREAS, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for example, the “There’s a Better Way” program has distributed a total of 1,750 day jobs, cleared 121,601 pounds of lifter, connected 226 individuals with employment services, and placed 20 individuals in housing; and WHEREAS, in Reno, Nevada, the City of Reno has partnered with the nonprofit organization Volunteers of America to provide homeless individuals with jobs cleaning riverbanks and parks as well as job skills training, long-term employment support, and wraparound case management; and


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WHEREAS, in Wailuku, the County of Maui recently awarded a grant for the “Clean and Safe” program, which is modeled after other national programs linking homeless individuals with cleanup jobs; and

WHEREAS, such nonprofit organization-operated programs benefit the public by improving the cleanliness of neighborhoods and providing a platform for re-integrating homeless individuals into the community and should be considered as part of the City’s strategy to address the homelessness crisis; and

WHEREAS, the City administration should consider measures that would encourage nonprofit organizations to undertake City cleanup and beautification programs utilizing homeless workers; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City and County of Honolulu that the City administration is requested to consider implementing measures to facilitate programs that employ homeless individuals for City cleanup and beautification work;

A hearing was conducted June 27, the bill is pending.

 

Author: Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.

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