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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Homeless solution is off to a good start

The establishment of a new temporary shelter in Kaka'ako is just the beginning of what should be a new wave of aid for Hawai'i's homeless.

Indeed, after years of failing to properly address the problem, the state administration, the Legislature and the community are working together to find sensible solutions to this growing problem.

The change in attitude was apparent in how quickly the state cleared the way for an abandoned warehouse on Pier 1 to be used as a temporary shelter to help the homeless who have been shut out of Ala Moana Beach Park.

The new site can hold 200 people and is close to public transportation and other services. State officials rightly realized they had to do more than just warehouse the homeless when they enlisted the aid of the Affordable Housing and Homeless Alliance, H5 (Hawai'i Helping the Hungry Have Hope) and the Waikiki Health Center to provide security and much-needed social services.

Church groups that have been providing meals and shelter in the interim will continue to help.

The Next Step Project will be available only for 11 months. But more permanent solutions are also on the horizon, including an omnibus housing bill that cleared a House and Senate conference committee and now waits for the governor's approval.

The bill would help deliver more affordable housing by nearly doubling the contribution from the conveyance tax to the state's Rental Housing Trust Fund. And it provides $30 million in aid for the homeless.

Another measure would sensibly streamline the permitting process to allow for developers who want to build more affordable housing. That's long overdue.

There are meaningful changes ahead. But they should be seen as part of a pledge to end homelessness.

We can't afford to ease up on this problem. The new shelter in Kaka'ako should be viewed as just the beginning of help long past due.