FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DUKE AIONA ANNOUNCES FIRST POLICY INITIATIVE REGARDING HOMELESSNESS IN HAWAI‘I
HONOLULU (June 16, 2014) – Today, at Kaka‘ako Makai Gateway Park, Duke Aiona released details of his pioneering plans to address the homeless crisis in Hawai‘i.
“Homelessness is a public safety issue for everyone, including the homeless. We are in crisis mode with a homeless population which has increased 30% since 2010,” said Aiona.
Underscoring the need to work with the entire community, including citizens, existing programs, service providers and nonprofits as well as city and county officials, Aiona said,
“Homelessness is not a city problem, it is not a state problem, it is a community problem. We need to come together in the spirit of aloha to address homelessness together.”
Aiona outlined two pioneering policy initiatives he will implement which will have an immediate impact on over two-thirds of the state’s homeless population, veterans, those with mental illness and chronic substance abuse users.
To address Hawai‘i’s veteran homeless population, one of the worst in the nation, Aiona will immediately implement a program in conjunction with the Hawai‘i National Guard.
“As Governor and Commander-in-Chief of our National Guard, I will direct our Guard to ‘leave no service member behind’ with peer-to-peer outreach to homeless veterans. The unique relationship our Guard has with veterans will convince the homeless veterans to seek and receive the necessary assistance such as job training and services for mental health and substance abuse.”
To address the over two-thirds of our state’s homeless who are not veterans, but who are either mentally ill or chronic substance abusers, Aiona announced his plans for a Homeless Court.
Modeled after Hawai‘i’s other specialty courts, including Drug Court, which Aiona pioneered as a judge, Homeless Court is similar to those in other states such as Arizona, California and Texas. The objective of Homeless Court is to immediately give the homeless a way off the streets with what Aiona described as
“tough yet compassionate justice, which provides the homeless with due process and a new beginning.”
Said Aiona of one unique aspect of his initiative,
“Our Homeless Court will give the homeless an opportunity to petition the court for entry into the program, with the objective of removing them from the streets immediately. It also provides law enforcement the assurance that their enforcement of existing laws such as public intoxication and public defecation and camping in the park, will not be fruitless.”
Of another unique aspect to his plan, Aiona said,
“In addition, the Homeless Court will allow family members who have exhausted their influence in getting their ‘ohana who suffer from mental illness or addiction into services with the goal of reuniting them with their families.”
In perhaps one of the most pioneering aspects, Aiona revealed his plan for making the courts accessible to the homeless through the use of mobile units. Aiona said, “Homeless Court will come to the homeless, rather than the homeless having to come to court.”
Aiona’s groundbreaking plan for Homeless Court gives the State an immediate answer to one of our most shameful community realities.
“For those who have been arrested or have outstanding charges, Hawai‘i’s Homeless Court provides an alternate gateway to services and a new beginning with fair due process within the judicial system,” said Aiona.
Addressing anecdotal evidence that other states buy one-way tickets for their homeless and send them to Hawai‘i, Aiona issued the following warning to Governors of the other forty-nine states,
“When I become Governor, if we determine that any state is engaged in this practice, we will send them back, we will bill the responsible state and I will collect. I will direct our Attorney General to collect on our expenses in returning your resident back to your state.”
Aiona announced his candidacy for Governor on May 19, 2014. For more information, please visit his website: www.dukeaiona.com.