Open letter to Hawaii’s politicians: on homelessness

Dear officials and lawmakers,

Photo of author's daughter
A 7 year old with crumbs on her face who shouldn’t have to worry so much.

YOU are failing her.

SHE is a seven year old innocent little girl. Born and raised in Kailua, Hawaii, what used to be one of the safest place on earth but she knows fear daily. She doesn’t feel safe in her small hometown. Every time we go out, we see someone acting out due to mental illness or consumption of drugs. No, we don’t take her to dark alleys of sketchy neighborhoods at midnight. This happens when we’re walking to the library, when we’re shopping at the grocery store, when we’re picnicking at the park.

When my husband and I moved from Los Angeles to Hawaii in 1998, we had a notion that we’d be offering a more peaceful, sheltered childhood to our future offspring. When we moved to Kailua, nine years ago, crazed homeless people were not such a prominent part of the landscape.
The problem is getting worse and worse. My 21 year old neighbor just told me she was shoved against the wall by an unstable individual right in front of Walgreens. What are you doing to ensure that my daughter’s not next?

YOU are not protecting her. YOU are robbing her of her innocence.

Under the covert of protecting civil rights, you’re letting bad things happen to a lot of good people (and that includes many among the homeless).
Those who are sick deserve more than simply being allowed to slowly but surely kill themselves and die on the streets.
Those who are able in body and mind deserve to become contributing members of society. Instead, the system makes homelessness an “easy” and viable option for them by providing short term perks (food drives, clothes donation and “free” medical care) but no long term solutions for leading a productive and fulfilling life. How can they expect to get ahead when no-one expects it of them? We all feel better when we give more than we take. They may have the right to destroy themselves on the street corner, but is it really what’s best for them?

Our world is taking on a dystopian quality when viewed through the lens of political correctness.
Is that the new standard of our civilized society?
One in which we let people who hurt (due to mental illness or other hardships in life) abuse and make a spectacle of themselves in public.
One in which our children learn that showing compassion means we do nothing.
One in which we look at politicians as part of the problem instead of part of the solution.
One in which law no longer fulfills justice or higher good.

Why are you letting people who break the law roam the streets? Public intoxication, disturbing of the peace, theft (stolen shopping carts), and un-permitted camping on public streets are already punishable crimes.

Your inaction is hurting them, hurting us and the generations who follow.
It’s time to get your priorities straight and provide solutions. That is what you get paid for. I beg you to do something… soon… now! While our children are still young enough… While there’s still time to give them better childhood memories and hope for a better future.

A concerned mother.

List of incidents that we have witnessed or were told about in the past 6 months:

1: We were enjoying the symphony-in-the-park concert and took our daughter to the nearby playground. We noticed a scruffy young man pacing back and forth with a crazed look on his face. I notified a police officer and advised my daughter to stay close. We decided to leave soon after and the man happened to come our way. As soon as we had gotten in the car, our daughter yelled “he’s coming”. The man ran to our car and screamed at us, his face inches from our car window. We were stuck behind other cars and couldn’t go anywhere until the light finally turned green.

2: I was walking to the library on a Wednesday around lunch time. I noticed a wild man walking towards me on the far end of the streets. He looked angry, was screaming and making big gestures. I quickly turned around to reach the closest crosswalk and get to the other side of the street so I wouldn’t have to pass him as I felt he might lash out at me.

3: We were in the car at a red light and saw a man, shirtless and dirty yelling at everyone who walked past him, including a pair of shaken Japanese tourists.

4: We had just enjoyed a nice lunch out and decided to take a stroll through Kailua town to digest. A new store had just opened and we wanted to visit. A few feet away from said store, an angry man had just pushed a shopping cart on its side and was throwing things on the ground, littering the whole sidewalk. We turned around and decided to go home instead.
Who knows how much more business this new store lost because of this?

5: We were at the supermarket checking out when an unruly man entered and started making a scene, gesturing wildly and screaming. We had to wait it out until we felt it was safe to get to our car.

6: My neighbor mentioned being followed when she was out for a run.

7: We heard of an acquaintance having her baby nearly stolen from her car by a homeless person. The acquaintance was unloading the trunk of her car and a homeless person opened her car door and started to grab the baby. Luckily, she was able to act and get her baby back safely.

8: We were having a picnic at the nearby playground after Library Story Time and a woman was behaving erratically by the public restrooms and had her pants half way down subjecting our group of mommies and children to a very indecent exposure.

Thank you for reading. If you are concerned too, make sure to contact your representatives and let them know. Call the police any and every time you witness behavior that could put the public at risk.

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