Help for the Homeless in Hawaii

Real Estate Agent with Liberty Homes RS-#62825

After reading Debi Boucher's post on Homeless In America  I remembered a post I wrote two years ago on ActiveRain:    Oahu's North West Shore: The Homeless Situation.  Homelessness is EVERYWHERE and not just in our country, state or city alone.

This is a follow up on our homeless situation of years past and present here on the island of Oahu.

It's sometimes a choice for those that choose to ‘live off the land' or it may be that one had a situation in their household that brought them to the point of homelessness. With the housing and economic crisis over the last few years we can guarantee many are homeless because they lost their job, or went through a tragedy such as a death in the family.

They no longer could afford the roof over their head.

I thought about all those around the world who went through a natural disaster such as the tsunami in Indonesia or the Earthquake in Haiti and just how many are homeless because of those circumstances.
We help them too.

Two years ago I took pictures of miles and miles of homeless families and individuals who had makeshift tents and bathrooms and who were trying to make the best of their situation. I guarantee many were displaced because they no longer could afford the inflated prices of rentals or to purchase a home here in Hawaii and decided to ‘live off the land and sea'.

Bottom line is that in Hawaii MANY choose to live this way in those tents and makeshift tarp homes on the beach because they don't want to give up a beloved pet and's warm most all year round so they can ‘camp out' most anywhere.

My older brother is out choice.

The bad side was that the drug addicts who were not only dealing and using ‘in public' but at one point even selling their ‘wares' from those trading for the ‘stuff'......right there in the open on our beautiful beaches.

The very bottom line is that it is against the law to camp out (live as a residence)on City & County or State land.  Our beach parks are not a place for everyone to camp out as their residence so they can have use of the bathroom facilities. Our residents and visitors from all over the world were not able to use some of these beach parks because it was overrun by these tent cities.  It was not a pretty site.

The good part is that in this particular area on Oahu's North East side, another Homeless Shelter Structure was built. The City and County beaches were finally CLEANED UP regardless if they chose to move elsewhere in the bushes or take advantage of the shelters provided.

 I had a transaction close for a home in the same area in late November 2009 and I took pictures of the cleaned up beaches.  it was a beautiful site. Since then, I often wonder where they moved to and hope they decided to utilize what is offered to them from our state, local and non profit agencies.

After researching I found that there are MANY available agencies, shelters and centers to help the homeless.  There are too many to list so please click on the following link for information should you need help.....


Hawaii Public Housing Authority- Services and Locations



I wonder what I would do if faced with that situation............


(Picture from the Hawaii Public Housing Authority Site)


Someone just gave me their input and idea that it would be interesting to see how each state/local areas help their homeless (or not) and what resources are available to help these citizens to get back on their feet.

Write a post...leave your link in the comment section...many would love to hear your stories!

Posted by



Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman  is a Realtor-Associate® and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs  she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocations, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents, Home Buyers and Sellers.


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Hawaii Real Estate and Relocation Blog.

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Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Myrl: The visitors and residents have to apply for permits on certain days etc. to 'camp'.  Just by my least you know the homeless weren't getting frost bitten. They did have to move quickly during high surf and storm though.

Jane: You wouldn't believe how many are homeless and have money. It's weird. then you see the ones who have dementia walking around blindly. Needless to say, many homeless have mental illness as well.


Jan 21, 2010 03:21 PM #21
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Debi: I'm sure there could be more done. I worked for a program for many years...and you'd be surprised how many go into a program and leave because they 'don't like the rules'. THAT was disheartening.

Susan: I have yet to see ones that allow pets...and so the reason my brother chooses to live out of his car....his tent...with his dog. He had two...both he has a pup. I haven't seen him in six years but my mom sees him every weekend.

Jan 21, 2010 03:25 PM #22
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Carole: I understand completely. I really loved that the residents and vistors could utilize our beautiful beaches again. I saw tents...but they were now birthday parties for kids at the beach and family get togethers. It's been a long time.

Leolinda. I believe our homeless have it better than some people in other countries. I watched this show on tv on how these people go dumpster diving for food and then sterilize it and cook it. Amazing what riches they find in dumpsters behind supermarkets. What we waste alone (and we all do) can feed many.....many....people.

Carol: At least they are appreciating the help. We have help available and there are some that don't utilize it!

Jan 21, 2010 03:28 PM #23
Tony & Darcy Cannon
Aubrey and Associates Realty - Layton, UT
The C Team

Sally, I think if I were to choose to be homeless, Hawaii would top my list of places!  San Diego would be near the top as well.  It is tragic for those that don't choose to be homeless!  It is something that we often choose to forget about or look past!  I have enjoyed both posts!

Jan 21, 2010 05:04 PM #24
Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind
KGC Properties LLC, Tucson Property Management & Real Estate - Tucson, AZ

GOOD MORNING SALLY!  Hilo has so many of these tent cities -- near the ocean as well as at public playgrounds.  They do look something awful and I am going to pass this on to my dad.  He tries to help these folks and maybe some of these Big Island resources will go a long way for someone! -- Gabrielle

Jan 21, 2010 11:15 PM #25
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Tony: Those that hard circumstances....especially with literally getting forced out of their homes due to a tragedy is a disheartening story. 

Gabrielle: Lots of people don't take the initiative to look for alternatives to start their lives over. It's understandable when the spirit is sucked away at the blink of an eye. These resources will help many.

Jan 22, 2010 02:52 AM #26
Todd & Devona Garrigus
Garrigus Real Estate - Beaumont, CA
Broker / REALTORS®

This problem is rampant in America. There's no easy answer, but I hope that someday our nation can find a solution.

Jan 22, 2010 04:54 AM #27
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Todd/Devona: There is no easy answer but we are one of the richest nations in the world. I can only vouch for our state that we have many resources and help...if they want it. As I'm hearing in other states.....they do not have a whole lot of resources.

Folks: I do believe the reason we have a lot to lose if we don't take care because our beaches and lots of preservation and conservation land is something we're proud of. Our economy is hugely supported by visitors and such and these areas need to remain beautiful ...for not just the visitors...but our residents too!

Jan 22, 2010 05:04 AM #28
Joseph Keech
Blue Atlantic Properties - Leland, NC

We definitely need to reach out to those who want and need help. It's so difficult to help those who refuse help. The government has a part, as well as churches, as well as each one of us as individuals. Thanks for the post and for bringing attention to homelessness.

Jan 22, 2010 05:09 AM #29
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX

Great post my friend and I always like seeing our fellow Rainers giving back in oiur communities!

Jan 22, 2010 05:44 AM #30
James Lyon
Vista Pacific Realty - Sacramento, CA

I have to say that if your going to be homeless, Hawaii has got to be a great place for it. Great to see that your helping.

Jan 22, 2010 06:00 AM #31
Susan Brown
Keller Williams NE, Kingwood Texas (Humble & Atascocita too) - Kingwood, TX

Sally, I never thought about the homeless problem being more prevalent in Hawaii.  It makes sense with the weather and people thinking they can just live on the land.  Wow. 

Jan 22, 2010 06:10 AM #32
Amy Miller

SALLY , We lived in Hawaii for several years and it really is heart breaking to see the tent cities people call home.  The worst is when you see the children that are living that life, not to mention a large potion of homeless on Ohau are Vets from are Armed Services. Most of them have no other means of survivial. Is that how they should be repaided for there wonderful service??? I think not!

Jan 22, 2010 07:30 AM #33
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Sally -- Poverty, homelessness, medical needs, and the list goes on, all inter-twined, with no easy, long-term and sustainable answers.  Collectively, we are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.

Jan 22, 2010 07:58 AM #34
Emily Lowe
The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor

Great post, Sally.  About a year ago I did a similar post about a tent city that had popped up in Nashville.  You are right -some are out there by choice, others because of their unfortunate situations.  I can't even imagine the situation in Haiti right now.  Devastating.  We all need to be helping each other out! 

Jan 22, 2010 10:03 AM #35
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

These people do not want to go to organized shelters because of the RULES of the shelter * no sex, drugs, pets, etc.

Yes, there is food on the trees and water to drink at various beaches as well as showers.....There are worse places to be than homeless in Hawaii * drugs have been prevalent on the islands for decades.

Jan 22, 2010 11:17 AM #36
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

Sally- I talk to a lot of homeless people. We have thousands on them here in South Florida that try to live on the beaches. They are also a lot down in the keys. The problem of sanitation is a big one. We go to the South Beach in Miami about once a year. I don't even want to go back because it smells like urine so bad now. 

Many of the homeless I speak to are homeless by choice. You can not force people to go to shelters nor should we. I used to feel sorry for all the homeless but for many, they are alcoholics and drug addicts who choose not to go to rehab. We can not as governments and a nation or a state enable their dependence and then keep giving them shelter only to find them homeless again. I can speak from first hand experience about the choices. My oldest son ran away from home, was homeless many times in his life, by choice. He also panhandled, by choice. Because of what he was doing, I keep spare change on me all the time, when I walk or drive by anyone on the corner begging for money, I do give to them because I think it could be someone else's son. So I am not being unfeeling. 

You give a man a fish, you feed him for  a day. You teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. But he has to take that step to want to learn. You can not forever feed and clothe and shelter people who will not take the steps to get out of their situation. 

When my mother used to take me to Hawaii, she would take me to live in the tent cities. She thought that was so cool, to camp out on the beach, go fishing and pick your fruit. All the homeless we were there with, all said that they wanted to be there, the tents were their homes and they liked it that way. So we should not be so fast to judge that they are poor souls. Actually it was quite fun for me as a young girl to live on the beach. 

I also was homeless a couple of times and two times with my 5 kids. I did not want to go to the women's safe shelter. One time when we chose to be homeless we lived out of our van while we started a new business and I got my real estate license in WA. We had a choice, spend our savings on a rental, first, last, security and bills or spend it on a lease for a building for our TKD school and for me to take the RE course there and pay for my exams, etc. We chose to live out of our van and go to the YMCA to take showers. We built our school and made sure we had a private room area for the kids and us and we slept there until we made the money to buy a house. It is all about choices. 

Now, there are the mentally handicapped and such that can not make their choices. Those people have to be take care of. Katerina 

Jan 22, 2010 12:22 PM #37
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale
Sally I liked that you provided a link to agencies that provide help.
Jan 22, 2010 01:32 PM #38
Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results

Sally - as you say, some choose the homeless life but most do not ... at least in Hawaii it is warm right now it is about 10 degrees below zero here and we have people living on the streets in places like Toronto.

Jan 22, 2010 03:46 PM #39
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Sally, That is the sad part. Many of the homeless are homeless by choice...

Helping you help others live their American dream...

Jan 22, 2010 09:09 PM #40
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