The homeless population has dropped by 83% over the past two years since a sit-lie ban went into effect, but some in Hawaii fear enforcement has gone too far
Aguirre Dick to benefit from spend the night in the street and parks of Waikiki, the pearl of Hawaiis tourism industry. But now, every evening, the homeless man must ride his bike three miles from the beach neighborhood and ascend the cinder slopes of a volcano to sleep or risk arrest.
The homeless population in Waikiki has dropped by 83% over the past two years, according to a local nonprofit that offer homeless services in the area. While many have been housed, others say they have simply been pushed out, with unwanted implications for the rest of Honolulu.
A2 014 law stimulated it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks in Waikiki, a move championed by a worried tourism industry. Visitors to the islands must reconcile their idea of a Pacific idyll with the highest per-capita rate of homelessness of any US state, and until recently the prime example was Waikiki.
But as other neighborhoods seek tocopy Waikikis example, critics are concerned that homeless people could be forced into a state of perpetual displacement.
The police told me get out of Waikiki, but they keep moving us around, Dick said earlier this month. He was worried by rumors that police would move him on from his new sleeping place along the Diamond Head volcanic crater. Theyre are seeking to bury us.
Waikiki is renowned for its pellucid water, high rises and luxury storefronts.According to recent data, the mile-long seaside stretch accounted for $7.3 bn in tourism revenue in 2015, or 42% of Hawaiis total tourism spending statewide. It is also responsible, based on 2010 numbers, for more than 30,000 local chores.
But homelessness in Waikiki was the number one complaint among tourists before the sit-lie forbidding, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority president, George Szigeti. The sit-lie banning was needed in Waikiki, Szigeti said, praising it for virtually eliminating homelessness in most high-traffic areas.