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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  March 28, 2006

 


MAYOR HANNEMANN OFFERS HOMELESS ALTERNATIVE

 

            Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann today announced that homeless persons displaced by the nighttime closing of Ala Moana Beach Park will be invited to stay in the grassy area near the Honolulu Police Department headquarters building on Beretania Street.

           

            Hannemann made the announcement after meeting today with advocates for the homeless, homeless service providers, and members of Hawaii’s faith community.

 

            “We are sympathetic to the plight of our state’s homeless population,” Hannemann said, “and are determined to provide a temporary location for the homeless to sleep at night while the state comes up with a long-term solution for shelter and care for them.”

 

            Hannemann said the grassy area, known as Sister Roberta Park, is a suitable and comparable location for the homeless who have been spending the night at Ala Moana Beach Park.

 

            “We continue to maintain, as I stated in my State of the City address, that the state government has the financial and human resources and expertise to address the homeless issue.  I pledge the City’s full support in the State’s efforts, and look forward to the governor’s homeless summit this Thursday as a meeting from which real solutions might emerge.”

 

            Hannemann reiterated that the temporary closing of Ala Moana Beach Park was prompted by the news that this week the State was to evict homeless persons from the Nimitiz Highway area because there was a criminal element that preyed on the homeless staying there.  City Parks Department Director Lester Chang  felt that closing Ala Moana at night would help prevent that criminal element from infiltrating the heavily-used city beach front park.

 

            “We continue to receive complaints on a daily basis from members of the public who say they don’t feel safe in many of our city parks,” Hannemann said.  “We want to provide safe and clean parks for all park users, and want to see whether the temporary closing of Ala Moana at night can help us meet that goal.”

 

            The grassy area near HPD will be available from 9:00 pm-5:00 a.m. nightly beginning tomorrow (Wednesday) night.  People who choose to stay there will have access to portable restrooms.

 

            “We believe the area will be a safe and welcome one for those homeless folks in our community who need a place to stay at night on a temporary basis until they can get into more long-term shelter and have access to the services they need,” Hannemann said. 

The mayor also said he is very grateful that Central Union Church and Kawaiahao Church called his office this morning and offered to help with housing some members of Honolulu’s homeless population.  Hannemann called on other churches and non-profit groups to do whatever they can to help with the homeless issue.

“Homelessness is not a city-only issue,” Hannemann said.  “It is a community issue that needs a community-wide solution.”

 

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Contact:

              Bill Brennan, 527-6928

              Mark Matsunaga, 527-5784

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

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