Lawmakers visit Keeau Beach Park to assess homeless situation
Lawmakers visited homeless at Kea'au Beach Park in Makaha this morning to get an idea of the issues they're facing.
The visit, and others like it to parks and shelters around the island in the coming months, are expected to help shape legislative proposals to address homelessness in the 2011 session.
State Rep. John Mizuno, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, said the visit was about seeing first-hand the struggles homeless live with — and getting input on what works and what doesn't.
"It's so easy for lawmakers just to sit in their offices and talk about policy issues," he said. Of the visit, Mizuno added, "This is a start — going out and actually meeting the homeless face-to-face."
About 200 people — mostly singles and couples, but some families — live in Kea'au Beach Park, where they have to take down their tents periodically so they're not ticketed. Outreach workers said many of the families at the park have been in shelters before, but have left or been evicted. Meanwhile, some of the singles and couples at the park could get into shelters but prefer to live at the park.
Debbie Purdy, who has lived at the park for about a year with her boyfriend, said she appreciated the visit.
"If they could help, that would be good," said Purdy, 46.