A few weeks ago I was contacted by e-mail and Instagram messenger by several Kalihi residents regarding the proposed IHS facility at 1234 N. King Street. They informed me that they lived directly next to the proposed site and had never been notified of the project.
However, the news was reporting that IHS had community & business support. They reported that the community was looking forward to the assistance in their neighborhood. But, this was not true. In fact, the business that IHS did reach out to told them they were too busy to chat and to leave a flyer. They never stated that they supported any sort of project.
When I caught wind of what was happening I offered my assistance, because the same narrative was played out in Chinatown before we, the community, opposed IHS' facility there. IHS had gone to the news and claimed they had community support, yet the reality is that no one even knew about the project.
These Kalihi residents were concerned about their properties, their children, the kupuna, and their community's future. Many claim that this is a case of "NIMBY" however, this is more of a case of a community who was never informed and found out that they "supported" it via a news broadcast.
The other factor is the lack of a guarantee that what we have seen happen in Chinatown will not happen in Kalihi. In Chinatown, we see homeless being brought in from all over the island to receive various services, but these are short term care and non-mandatory services. So what ends up happening is the clients stay a few days and then leave. They end up hanging around Chinatown laying on the sidewalks, pitching tents, urinating, defecating in front of stores and restaurants, etc.
This is what the Kalihi residents feared for their community. In Chinatown we have sit-lie laws, but they are never enforced, which you can see anytime you visit. River street is a drug haven where homeless addicts freely and openly shoot up, smoke, and drink all hours of the day. So to criticize Kalihi residents for not wanting this type of scenario for their community is quite ridiculous.
I proudly stand with these residents in opposition to any triage centers in their community. Residents deserve a voice in their community's future, as well as their own. To come out of nowhere with a project such as this, and to lie to the media claiming community support is the worst way to go about things.
IHS provides great services to those in need, but the government needs to step up in a major way if we are to reduce and prevent homelessness. And, any type of additions such as homeless triage centers should be brought in front of the community well in advance of the purchase of any facilities.
It's not just a NIMBY situation. It's a situation where entire communities will be forever impacted by services much like Chinatown has been. Without a guarantee from IHS or HPD that people won't end up sleeping on the streets, doing drugs, etc. why should residents be willing to accept such facilities in their neighborhoods?
I'm glad to see residents standing up for their community and I will proudly fight on behalf of our district, because we don't have to continue being a dumping ground and forgotten section of O'ahu anymore. We deserve a better quality of life.