A lot of hard work, empathy, planning and team work will be required in the coming years to help reduce the homeless problem, and the issues that surround it, but kudos to stakeholders for organizing to try and make it happen.
Monday night, more than 100 people gathered at Umekes Fish Market Bar and Grill in the Old Kona Industrial Area to see what more stakeholders can do to address the issue.
The grassroots community gathering was spearheaded by Umekes owner Nakoa Pabre, who was fed up with the status quo as he saw it — a status quo that consisted of drunken lewd behavior around his establishment with occasional property damage.
Other businesses have complained of similar experiences, and they pinpoint the problems on those without a permanent address who loiter around the Old Kona Industrial Area.
It’s a topic that elicits passion in people. On Monday night, a suspect described as homeless in appearance threw a rock through the window of Umekes’ soon-to-be establishment up the road from the current site where the meeting was held. Coincidence? Perhaps. Either way, Monday’s meeting showed that temperatures on this topic are up. Fevers, ideas, and voices have been running high.
Right now, there might not be a proven right answer everyone can grab to. But that’s not the point. The question now is, what can I do? What can we do?
An inch is only an inch but pieced together, it’ll eventually add up to a mile.
It could consist of an effort for quicker response times from police officers when called on nuisance complaints, as was suggested during the meeting. Perhaps it’s time to rewrite some laws with specific language that clearly defines some of the nuisances from which these business owners say they suffer. Perhaps that will make it easier to cite and arrest where warranted. Perhaps on one of those arrests detox and sobriety really sinks in on the perpetrator and the first real step toward stopping recidivism is implemented.
Or, it could be businesses doing a little something extra, like adding security cameras, or offering to sort and leave out their recyclables for the transient populations who survey the area collecting them. That was brought up Monday as well. Or, perhaps it’s a hand up. Maybe by offering a part-time job to those looking to prove themselves is giving the break needed to step further away from the criminal cycle.
Maybe we focus on bigger picture possibilities like the allocation of major resources for major mental health and rehabilitation centers.
Who’s to say?
The community, actually. And that’s happening.
As of now, the suggestions that pumped out of Monday’s meeting — which was a follow-up meeting to May’s inaugural grassroots gathering — are a starting point. It’s a fire hose, not a water fountain.
But if stakeholders keep at it, we’re optimistic real, tangible results aren’t far off. Already, improvement is noticed. It was the stakeholders who clamored for the state to sweep the downtown camps, which it recently did. Did it make the village perfect? No, but it helped.
It’s those same stakeholders who formed the grassroots meeting to see what more can be done. Kudos to those who are taking part, chipping in any small way they can. It takes a village.