My wife and I have lived in Kona for 30 years. We have seen it change. Not for the better: No doctors, less public assistance and a huge homeless problem. Who would have ever thought this would come to Kona, the cash cow of the County of Hawaii?
It is easy to splash headlines of the homeless cleanup of extremely visible areas near our highways but with no solution in site. I don’t want to be quoted on the exact number of homeless who accepted the assistance of the outreach programs that went to their assistance but it was dismal to say the least.
We have a hardcore section of homeless who have no intention of moving through the system provided there to help them. These are the individuals who I am sure, just through common sense, are mentally impaired or otherwise addicted to substances. Nothing but forceful incarceration and forced treatment with followups and enforced compliance will help solve this issue.
This, I understand, will be a much bigger task than having our island build a homeless transition shelter. We need the will of our community to hold the feet of our elected officials to the fire and the courts to look past the compassion issue on unwilling individuals who flaunt the norms and acceptance of what we want as a community way of life.
I am of the age where I won’t be here to see the dramatic change in official policy to completely solve this problem. But I hope each and everyone of us who still holds dear the vision of a small county on a big island with the most beautiful sunsets and weather that people from around the world pay a lot of money to experience won’t fade into the sunset because we refuse to take the hard steps to solve the problem.
I suggest that a start would be for those unwilling to move into transitional housing and accept medical assistance to improve their lives that they be sentenced to a prison term to evaluate their condition. If they are not mentally impaired or abusing substances then they need to serve a jail sentence based on their refusal to conform to the laws they break. Mental and substance abused individuals need to be force into treatment.
I am of a older generation where convicts were used to the benefit of the community rather than having three-squares a day and sitting in confinement. Put them to use to the benefit of us all. Since our county is unable to clear trash from our newly opened highway and other areas, send them out in supervised groups to facilitate keeping it clean.
This in no way takes away from the all important works of the HGEA union that has a stranglehold on the entire state but supports an effort they can not fulfill. Radical? No. Inhumane? No. Progressive? Yes.
Let’s all push our respective representatives to do their jobs. We pay huge taxes on everything. Stand up, Hawaii, and demand major change! If we don’t, I fear the future of our piece of paradise. Just for the record, I grew up and lived in Hawaii since 1965. Seen it, lived it, love it. Hope you are of the same mind.
Barry and Louise Christian are residents of Kailua-Kona.