This is a continuation of an article on the Huffington Post. Click here to read what triggered the solutions discussed in this article.
Representatives and Shopping Carts.
Arguing these carts are stolen property doesn’t understand the American economy. We know Foodland has shopping carts that are run into the ground; that they can no longer use for store purposes. What do they do with these carts? Keep them forever? Are they required to? They can sell them. Maybe cart owners donate them to homeless, so cans can be collected. Maybe they throw them out, where homeless people can save them from the trash, or buy them from junksellers.
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
I would suggest supermarkets sell or donate these shopping carts to the recycling businesses (for example, the one next to the old Hard Rock Cafe) so the recycling companies can lend them to homeless people to bring back cans to recycle. We reuse and recycle and we save trash from our landfills. People donate multiple thousand-dollar cars to help out charities. Why can’t homeless people use otherwise unusable carts to help recycle rather than fill up the Waimanalo Gulch? Seems like we solve about 15 problems with one stone. Less waste, more reuse of materials, more recycling (of bottles and cans and such). And better cleanliness (since the stores would donate old carts, the real disgusting carts get taken off the streets) and the stores get write-offs for donations and actually, free advertising as the homeless help reduce government spending by helping out with the recycling efforts.
I see this as a win-win-win-win.
Of course, smashing stuff is more fun. That would be a net loss I suppose.
Sledgehammer and the train.
As we build the train, more and more people will need a way to transport goods they buy at big box centers, from their local transit stations to their residences. Maybe GPS-equipped shopping carts owned by the county, collected every night after the train makes its final stop might be a great consumer benefit. Basically every family in Japan has at least one bicycle equipped with large baskets in the front and behind to carry groceries. Honolulu doesn’t have that infrastructure yet. As we look to the future, with greater public transportation and fewer parking spots for a larger number of people, nicer, high-end derivatives of what we call a “shopping cart” now might actually be a very useful, short-to-medium distance-carrying device.
Homelessness on the Mainland.
Homelessness across most of America is solved naturally. As snow falls, mentally ill and financially challenged start to search for help indoors. They receive medical screenings warm food and social services. This is the one benefit of cold weather. Honolulu needs to find a different solution. Since homeless are not going to come to us, we’re going to have to reach out to them. Honolulu was on the right track when we were supporting the community paramedics. I support this program 100%. Please read about it here. Definitely agree with the Mayor and the State’s “Housing First” initiative. This is how we lift people up instead of hammer people down. And, if faith based organizations want to provide a warm meal, or warm blankets as an interim measure, then that is okay with me. The State doesn’t need to pay for it, but it shouldn’t be inhibited as long as it is done ethically and with minimal debris left over.
Closing parks at 10:00 pm.
But the idea that we cede our parks either to homeless, or to nobody is anathema to me. A few months ago my wife and I were looking for a good spot to watch the meteor shower, and we realized every park on the island is closed after ten o’clock. Who does that benefit? Not my wife and I, who simply wanted to look at stars. Not the homeless, if they’re arrested, they don’t get services in jail, they get jail. They get out, and everything they’ve saved is gone. It’s like protecting your baby from fire by throwing her out the second floor window: ill-advised.
Change the law to Hawaii Opportunities in Treatment.
I propose Hawaii Opportunities in Treatment: HOT. Why don’t we require, as punishment, completion of a court ordered treatment/counseling program. If you get a DUI, you have to do a driving program. Let’s do the same for the homeless. Instead of how to drive defensively, we work on a resume. We build a list of services that provide basic boots, so our friends and family members finally have the bootstraps to pull themselves up by. We keep sending these people to jail again and again anyway, instead, let’s require them to check into this treatment center on the way out of jail. Not for everyone, start small, test it, just like HOPE probation. And like HOPE probation, watch us become a model for national homeless treatment.