I’ve often expressed my impression that the newspaper simply wants to clear the streets, based on the articles they’ve run and their aversion to even mentioning a Housing First solution. Today the publisher of the paper and the general manager of their TV partner confirmed this.
Of course, the op-ed mentioned the assault on Rep. Tom Brower. What a gift he has given this newspaper.
Referring to Gov. Ige’s halt on sweeps because there is no shelter space:
The best idea the [Governor’s] task force could muster seemed to be an unused maintenance shed in the Kakaako encampment that could maybe house 40 people after it is refurbished. That logic seems to suggest that we need permanent housing for the homeless. We don’t. We need temporary housing and we need it quickly without all the bureaucratic handwringing that is taking place.
[Star-Advertiser p. E1, A crisis that demands action, 8/23/2015]
Of course, we do need permanent housing for the homeless! Building condos for the rich and ultra-rich may satisfy the chamber of commerce folks (Star-Advertiser publisher Dennis Francis, co-author of this op-ed, is the immediate past chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii) but the rest of us need to have affordable housing. This includes those who, at the moment, have no housing at all.
There is clearly no hope of reversing the current crisis (which has been with us for a dozen or more years) if shelters are built but truly affordable housing is not.
The Governor’s new team may be naive, but it is hard to believe that journalists do not know better.
Bureaucratic handwringing is par for the course in Hawaii
The writers are correct about the bureaucratic handwringing, even though the issue now is what we can reasonably expect from a Governor’s team that lacks expertise in any of the issues it is confronted with.
Handwringing may be where they are, but there will be action. Eventually. That’s a word I hate to use, but it’s less problematic than something like “in Hawaii time.”
There is an inevitable result in Hawaii when our state government fails to act to protect the rights or health of its citizens—the state is forced to act by the courts.
For example, the federal courts have forced Hawaii to provide special education services and has sued to protect the civil rights of patients at the State Hospital. Those were “crises” in the same sense as we have now with affordable housing—the state knows it must act but doesn’t, letting the problem simply fester. Eventually the crisis is resolved by court order.
What is predictable is that the crisis will end. The only question is how. What has changed recently is that the City has passed ordinances that a court could work with more easily. The City’s attorney warned the Council, but they overrode the Mayor’s veto of their expanded sit-lie ordinance anyway.
Expanded sit-lie prohibitions combined with the City’s illegal enforcement of the stored property ordinances should open a window of opportunity. Eventually.
There could be another path, but it would depend on the state implementing the proven solutions that have worked elsewhere. Where? Places like New Orleans, Louisiana; Plattsburgh, New York; Anchorage, Alaska; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New York City; District of Columbia; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Quincy, Massachusetts; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Salt Lake City, Utah; Seattle, Washington; Los Angeles and Cleveland, Ohio.
The newspaper could be a force for resolution of the bureaucratic handwringing
There is nothing like the power of the press to influence public thinking and to reform public policy. The influence can be good—or bad, if editors go over to the dark side.
Remember the role that the paper played in demonizing the homeless living on the streets in Waikiki. That seemed very much akin to the role of the New York Times and other papers that led the cheerleading for the Iraq war.
The Star-Advertiser has, in effect, promulgated a war against those forced to live on the streets. By repeatedly citing the assault against Tom Brower the paper consciously tries to swing public opinion against those who live in the encampment. De-humanization is a frequent tactic in a war against anyone.
The paper supported and called for laws to sweep the homeless from the streets of Waikiki, showing no empathy with their humanity.
Kakaako has become a refuge of last resort where individuals and families were crushed into overcrowded and desperate circumstances. Conditions in Kakaako were created by the City’s policy and supported by the newspaper. Now the paper wants to exterminate them from that place as well,