Monday, September 15, 2014
Correction / Ethical issues related to homeless tent camp
by Larry Geller
This morning I was a guest on HPR’s The Conversation. I’m not sure exactly what I said, but someone who listened to the program told me that I said that the Sand Island site contemplated by the city for their planned tent camp for the homeless is contaminated. That’s not what I meant to say, and it’s not accurate. The site hasn’t been tested, so we don’t know what might be there. The list of contaminants that I read was from a document describing contaminants and potential contaminants from an adjacent or close by site.
It’s important to be accurate, and if I misstated, I regret the error.
As I understand the state approval granted Friday for use of the site, it is contingent on the site being tested and on Department of Health approval. However that happens, the tests should be public documents, so we will find out what’s on or under the ground when they are completed.
For those of you who might not have heard the program this morning, I think two new concepts were introduced.
1) I suggested there may be ethical issues if the city pushes those people moved from the streets of Waikiki into housing ahead of those already identified as candidates—and I’m told that there is already a list of about 275 people compiled as a result of the agreed intake process. (Note that intake, or “triage” as the city has described it, can be done anywhere, it’s not necessary to move anyone to Sand Island to determine eligibility for Housing First. Intake can be done in most any room in the city.)
2) In answer to Beth-Ann’s question, I replied yes, I think, the scheme could backfire on the city if it should turn out that people sitting on the sidewalk in Waikiki are given priority for a housing program. Anyone interested in getting into a Housing First unit when they become available might flock to Waikiki and sit down, hoping to be bused to Sand Island to begin the process. This is assuming that Mayor Caldwell signs the bill that limits the enforcement area rather than the one that is island-wide. Just thinking out loud on this one. There could be so many complications to this process, and the money spent is not going towards housing.
Oh I'm sooo relieved that the DOH will be doing their usual stringent and transparent job of testing for toxicity... (where's that sarcasm font when I need it)