Homeless in Hawaii: A Nightmare in Paradise

Roberta Huddy, 50, has lived in her van with her husband for about a year. They are constantly moving to avoid harassment and ticketing by the police. Photo: PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Living in the tropical paradise of Hawaii - with its glistening surfs and golden sands - is dream to many of us, but to some, it's a living nightmare.

With the highest cost of living of any state in the United States of America, it's no wonder that Hawaii has a problem with homelessness. There's an estimated 4,700 homeless people living in the Hawaiian island of Oahu (1,600 of them go without shelter at any given night). Honolulu, the largest city of the island, has the dubious distinction of being fifth in the list of US cities with high homelessness rate. The island itself has the largest homeless encampment in the United States.

But tourists visiting Honolulu probably didn't notice. Mayor Kirk Caldwell was recently lauded for cleaning up the problem at the beaches of Waikiki. "Police officers came up to me and said it looks much better," Caldwell said to Civil Beat, "Residents who live there came up to me and said, 'Mayor, what are you doing? It looks so much better.'"

But the reality is that the homeless are still homeless - they didn't find housing, but instead, they were being bounced from "sidewalk to sidewalk and park to park," as Nick Grube of Civil Beat reports:

A good night’s sleep in Waikiki is hard to come by for Roberta Huddy.

She became homeless about a year ago after losing her job as a guest services agent at one of the hotels.

Now Huddy, who was born and raised on Kauai, lives in a worn-down Ford Astro with her husband, Greg, on Kalakaua Avenue next to Kapiolani Park.

Their few belongings fill the vehicle from the passenger seat to the back hatch, blankets on the floor serving as a makeshift bed.

The van is also their getaway vehicle. It allows them to avoid police and city park crews who have ramped up their efforts to clear the homeless out of Waikiki.

Like many others who live on the streets, the Huddys are on the run.

“All they say is that we should move around,” Huddy complained while perched on the edge of her Astro. “At night I like to go up to Kapahulu because at least there I can sleep in peace.”

Read the entire story over at Civil Beat.

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