Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Governor denied homeless sweeps, now underway before APEC, would take place
“Homeless advocates are now concerned that officials are planning to conduct intense "sweeps" of Hawaii's homeless encampments in the run-up to the Apec summit, clearing them from the streets in order to hide the scale of their problem from the prying eyes of the international media due to attend.
Governor Abercrombie has repeatedly denied the existence of such "sweeps", saying that it is not a crime to be homeless in Hawaii. Last week, the Honolulu Star reported that state officials had also testified before the legislature that none was being organised.”--America's homeless crisis washes up in Obama's birthplace (The Independent, 9/19/2011)
by Larry Geller
The international media can’t be fooled, though. The pull-quote above is from the London Independent. This week the news indicates that the homeless sweeps are taking place. Of course they are. For one thing, security zones will be set up and so sweeps of homeless individuals and families from those areas should have been a given.
The editorial in today’s Star-Advertiser recaps the Abercrombie administration’s failures, a continuing theme in the paper. The gov gives them ample fuel, of course, and the criticisms are not without merit. Today’s front-page news adds one more log to the fire. Why couldn’t the state’s plans have been honestly articulated, since the Administration knew it would “sanitize” Honolulu to hide its shameful problem from the eyes of world leaders and APEC visitors?
State landscaping crews and prisoners are busy this week, clearing out homeless people and their belongings from 17 areas along Nimitz Highway and the H-1 freeway that will be seen by delegations.
[Star-Advertiser, State clearing homeless from APEC sight lines, 10/26/2011]
The front page of today’s Star-Advertiser contrasts Hawaii’s comfortable 85 degree weather with the unfortunate plight of those caught up in the APEC homeless sweeps—the sweeps that the UK paper reports Governor repeatedly denied would occur. It seems that the state may want the people out of sight, but the news of Hawaii’s treatment of its own citizens is out there for the world to see.
Here is a snip from Monday’s front page:
From the same UK article, quoting Doran Porter, Executive Director of Hawaii's Affordable Housing and Homeless Alliance:
"We have the highest cost of living in the US. Everything is more, from milk in the supermarket to gas to fill your car. And that's particularly the case with rent," he says. "The average cost of a basic one-bedroom apartment is between $850 and $900 a month. That's about the same as San Francisco. A lot of people in Hawaii, particularly in the tourist industry, are on minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. Even with a job they can't afford a home."
"Because this is seen as an attractive place to live, wages in professional jobs are often lower here, too," Porter adds. "I've seen graduate legal positions, which on the mainland would pay $60,000 or $70,000, advertised at nearer to $40k. Even with that income, it can be difficult to make your rent."
No, we can’t hide our problems in this Internet age. What would be refreshing would be some honesty on the part of our leadership to start with, and a true investment in working on the problems that contribute to houselessness instead of a futile attempt to hide them from VIP visitors.
Scenes of sweeps in the year 2020 from the movie Soylent Green
SHAME ON YOU, NEIL. YOU WONDER WHY YOU ARE SO UNPOPULAR SO EARLY? MUFI WOULDA BEEN BETTER THAN THIS.
No, Mufi wouldn't have been better. But those of us who thought Neal was worth fighting for have been sadly disappointed.