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Mar 29, 2007
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Choosing Not To Look Away: Helping The Homeless


This has become a serious problem here in Honolulu!
Homeless people in our communities are a fact of life, especially in big cities. Many of us don't know how to interpret this situation or what we can do to help. We may vacillate between feeling guilty, as if we are personally responsible, and feeling angry, as if being homeless is entirely on their shoulders. The situation is, of course, far more complex than either scenario. Still, not knowing how to respond, we may fall into the habit of not responding at all. We may look over their heads and not make eye contact, or look down at the ground as we pass, falling into a habit of ignoring them. Each time we do this, we disconnect ourselves from a large portion of the human family, and it doesn't feel right.

Most of us know in our hearts that the homeless and the poor are not so very different from us. They may be the victims of poor planning or an unavoidable crisis. Some of them are mentally ill, some are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and some are choosing to be homeless for reasons we may never understand. We can imagine that, given their lives, we would likely have ended up in the same place. This does not mean that we are meant to rescue them as they are on their own learning path, but it does remind us that we can treat them as equals, because that is what they are. Even if we aren't able to offer food, shelter, or money, we can offer a blessing as we pass. We can look them in the eye and acknowledge our shared humanness, even if we don't know how to help them. This simple act of kindness and silent or spoken blessings can be helpful to those living on the street.

If you want to help with information, you can learn about the services in your area and share the locations of food banks, shelters, and other resources. As parents, perhaps you would like to plan ahead, talking with your children about how as a family you would like to handle these situations. Whatever you decide to do, you will feel much better when you make a conscious choice not to simply look away
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Posted: Mar 29, 2007 4:56am
Mar 29, 2007

I truly loved this DailyOm...this is exactly what I mean when I talk about doing things for yourself...YOU TIME. My you time doesn't consist of unhealthy things ( to both you and your family)...ie...time for you to go out, whilst your husband and children stay at home....going out to bars to meet with "other" people. That is indeed un healthy in many circumstances and often times leaves you needing a family counselor..because your children and/or entire family is suffering. The time for you should always consist of taking time away from the family...time to focus on you...and what is happening in your life...what things do YOU need in order to stay sane..lol....that is if you aren't nuts already ( LOL j/k) Time to take deep breathes and focus on your insides...how am I feeling inside? How is stress affecting me...how I am being perceived by my family....how am I being perceived by my friends? Meditation and relaxation. I do take time for me...at least once a week. I get a massage from one of my fellow masseuses ( WONDERFUL WAY TO TAKE YOU TIME! ) I will met one of my girlfriends in the morning ( after I have dropped my kids off..and we go out for breakfast or coffee. LOVE going to Barnes and Nobles...alot of fun when you have a girlfriend to go with...( great cafe inside as well ) I don't go out at night, unless my family is with me...because that is my time when they are all home....to be WITH them. My ME time is NOT nor will it EVER be more important than my beautiful family. God gave me these beautiful people...and you can bet He can sure take them away in a flash ( I have seen this happen OH so many time ) if you abuse that priveledge. Having a Family IS a PRIVILEDGE that not everyone gets. Be lucky and oh so greatful you have them! NEVER taken them for granted for your own selfish whims and desires. Anywho...sorry I got off the subject. My nighttime...is my time to be with my hubby and kiddoes. NOT in a bar drinking and hoping the next guy over notices me and feeds my insecurities, like so many women and men do. Me time when it does not step into my family time..the best to have.

Now about drinking, I have learned through making some crappy mistakes...that drinking...when you are depressed or angry about something...or have serious unresolved issues ( ie...famnily having to go to counseling because of problems ) only worsens the situation. Alcohol is a depressant...so I never understood how someone could take their ME time and go to a bar, while they are depressed or having difficulty with their family. I am so happy and completely blessed this is not my situation..and I know my hubby is completely blessed that he has a wife who loves her family and loves being home with them. AND now he pushes me to get some ME time...which is so funny...because he used to beg for HE time with his past..lol I am so blessed that my kids are not in therapy because of my unstable mental health...I am so glad that I have not caused trauma to them, during the last few years of my marriage to their dad and afterwards...these two are completely satisifed and happy with botth parents new spouses. We all get along because we do not call each other names and bicker...because neither spouse is still trying to hold onto the past. So, yes...with the healthy atmosphere in my home...I am allowed some ME time...and it is healthy for all involved! Sorry for the long winded speech...this wonderful article in DailyOm inspired me to write. I think this entire audience of readers...and i mean EVERYONE...needs to catch DailyOm.com for the mental health of them and their family...WONDERFUL medicine for the soul. Peace and Blessings to you guys!!!!!!

D

Your Most Vital Commitment
Finding Time For You


Within each of there is a well of energy that must be regularly replenished. When we act as if this well is bottomless, scheduling a long list of activities that fit like puzzle pieces into every minute of every day, it becomes depleted and we feel exhausted, disconnected, and weak. Refilling this well is a matter of finding time to focus on, nurture, and care for ourselves, or "you time." Most of us are, at different times throughout the day, a spouse, a friend, a relative, an employee, a parent, or a volunteer, which means that down time, however relaxing in nature, is not necessarily "you time." Though some people will inevitably look upon "you time" as being selfish, it is actually the polar opposite of selfishness. We can only excel where our outer world affairs are concerned when our own spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs are fulfilled.

Recognizing the importance of "you time" is far easier than finding a place for it in an active, multifaceted lifestyle, however. Even if you find a spot for it in your agenda, you may be dismayed to discover that your thoughts continuously stray into worldly territory. To make the most of "you time," give yourself enough time on either side of the block of time you plan to spend on yourself to ensure that you do not feel rushed. Consider how you would like to pass the time, forgetting for the moment your obligations and embracing the notion of renewal. You may discover that you are energized by creative pursuits, guided meditation, relaxing activities during which your mind can wander, or modes of expression such as writing.

Even if you have achieved a functioning work-life balance, you may still be neglecting the most important part of that equation: you. "You time" prepares you for the next round of daily life, whether you are poised to immerse yourself in a professional project or chores around the home. It also affords you a unique opportunity to learn about yourself, your needs, and your tolerances in a concrete way. As unimportant as "you time" can sometimes seem, it truly is crucial to your wellbeing because it ensures that you are never left without the energy to give of yourself.

DailyOM.com

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Posted: Mar 29, 2007 4:48am
Feb 26, 2007

I am doing a paper on Edmund Burke in my Eng Lit class.....I find this man fascinating. His views and intellignce are refreshing in a day and age where TV and lollypop celebs exsist. I took this bit of biography on him.






Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)


Edmund Burke © Burke was a hugely influential Anglo-Irish politician, orator and political thinker, notable for his strong support for the American Revolution and his fierce opposition to the French Revolution.

Edmund Burke was born in Dublin on 12 January 1729, the son of a solicitor. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin and then went to London to study law. He quickly gave this up and after a visit to Europe settled in London, concentrating on a literary and political career. He became an MP in 1765. He was closely involved in debates over limits to the power of the king, pressing for parliamentary control of royal patronage and expenditure.

Britain's imposition on America of measures including the Stamp Act in 1765 provoked violent colonial opposition. Burke argued that British policy had been inflexible and called for more pragmatism. He believed that government should be a co-operative relationship between rulers and subjects and that, while the past was important, a willingness to adapt to the inevitability of change could, hopefully, reaffirm traditional values under new circumstances.

He also maintained a keen interest in India. He concluded that Indian governmental corruption had to be resolved by removing patronage from interested parties. He proposed that India be governed by independent commissioners in London, but a bill to this end was defeated, prompting impeachment proceedings against Warren Hastings, the governor-general of Bengal.

However, the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 gave Burke his greatest target. He expressed his hostility in 'Reflections on the Revolution in France' (1790). The book provoked a huge response, including Thomas Paine's 'The Rights of Man'. Burke emphasised the dangers of mob rule, fearing that the Revolution's fervour was destroying French society. He appealed to the British virtues of continuity, tradition, rank and property and opposed the Revolution to the end of his life.

Burke retired from Parliament in 1794. His last years were clouded by the death of his only son, but he continued to write and defend himself from his critics. His arguments for long-lived constitutional conventions, political parties, and the independence of an MP once elected still carry weight. He is justly regarded as one of the founders of the British Conservative tradition. He died on 9 July 1797.




Now my favorite quotes fomr this genuis of a man is detailed below. A few that spoke to me strongly I gave my own opinion of that particular quote....ENJOY!





"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."

"He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper."



"Despotism of the multitude ... [however] democracy is the only tolerable form into which human society can be thrown, that a man is not permitted to hesitate about its merits, without the suspicion of being a friend to tyranny, that is, of being a foe to mankind?"


"The human mind is often in a state neither of pain nor pleasure, which I call a state of indifference."


"To love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of publick affections."

"A man that breeds a family without competent means of maintenance, encumbers other men with his children."

"No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear."


"All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter we give and take; we remit some rights, that we may enjoy others."


"Philosophical happiness is to want little. Civil or vulgar happiness is to want much, and to enjoy much."



"History is a preceptor of prudence, not of principles."



"It would be well if gentlemen, before they joined in a cry against any establishment, had well considered for what purpose that cry is raised."



"It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tell me I ought to do."



"Liberty without wisdom, and without virtue is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint."



"Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, can never willingly abandon it."



"They who make a man an idol, when he is off his pedestal will treat him with all the contempt with which blind and angry worshippers treat an idol that is fallen."



"I always distinguish between a man's talkative and writative character."




"All which a man without authority can give, -- his unbiased opinion, his honest advice, and his best reasons."



"You think you are combating prejudice, but you are at war with nature."


"That the critical taste does not depend upon a superior principle in men, but upon superior knowledge."



"The degree of estimation in which any profession is held becomes the standard of the estimation in which the professors hold themselves."



"Prosperity is not apt to receive good lessons, nor always to give them."


"Power is a very corrupting thing, especially low and jobbish power."


"The operation of opinion being in the inverse ratio to the number of those who abuse power."



"Property, left undefended by principles, became a repository of spoils to tempt cupidity."


"Property was not made by government, but government by and for it. The one is primary and self-existent; the other is secondary and derivative."




"We begin to think and to act from reason and from nature alone."




"A populace never rebels from passion for attack, but from impatience of suffering."



"[Re: French Revolution] I thought that ten thousand swords would have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her [Marie Antoinette] with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded." ( <~~ LOVED this one.....take a look at my "internet dating" blog i recently posted!! This is SOOOOO TRUE!!! All brawn NO BRAINS anymore...minus a few heroes....* got mine!! *~Dena )




"A revolution will be the very last resource of the thinking and the good."




"... all that wise men ever aim at is to keep things from coming to the worst. Those who expect perfect reformations, either deceive or are deceived miserably."



"Your mob can do this [pulling down and destroying social institutions] as well at least as your assemblies. The shallowest understanding, the rudest hand is more than equal to that task. Rage and frenzy will pull down more in half an hour than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years. The errors and defects of old establishments are visible and palpable. It calls for little ability to point them out ... No difficulties occur in what has never been tried. Criticism is almost baffled in discovering the defects of what has not existed; and eager enthusiasm and cheating hope have all the wide field of imagination in which they may expatiate with little or no opposition." (<~~~This is SO VALID today!!! Take a look at the Iraqi war!!! ~Dena )




"It required an unbroken attention, to form a true judgment."




"Society is indeed a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure -- but the state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico, or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties. It is to be looked on with other reverence, because it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."




"Superstition is the religion of feeble minds." ( KINDA reminds me of RELIGION!!! SUPERSTITION....VS..... RELIGIONS.....HMMMM ~Dena )



"The most unjust and impolitick of all things, unequal taxation."





"All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. ... Man acts from motives relative to his interests; and not on metaphysical speculations." ( <~~ ONE OF MY ALLTIME FAVORITE QUOTES EVER!~Dena )




"We owe an implicit reverence to all the institutions of our ancestors."




"When full grown, it [vanity] is the worst of vices, and the occasional mimic of them all. It makes the whole man false."




"It is the interest of the commercial world that wealth should be found everywhere."

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Posted: Feb 26, 2007 2:13pm
Feb 26, 2007
Here's your meditation for today and something to
print out and put in a place where you will see it
again and again:

1. Expectation is a powerful attractive force. Expect
the things you want, and don't expect the things you
don't want.

2. Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your
energy and bring more of what you want into your life.
Be grateful for what you already have, and you will
attract more good things.

3. Giving thanks for what you want in advance
turbo-charges your desires and sends a more powerful
signal out into the Universe.

4. Visualization is the process of creating pictures
in your mind of yourself emjoying what you want. When
you visualize, you generate powerful thoughts and
feelings of having it now. The law of attraction then
returns that reality to you, just as you saw it in
your mind.

5. To use the law of attraction to your advantage,
make it a habitual way of being, not just a one-time
event.

6. At the end of every day, before you go to sleep, go
back through the events of the day. Any events or
moments that were not what you wanted, replay them in
your mind the way you wanted them to go.
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Posted: Feb 26, 2007 2:12pm
Feb 17, 2007

Navy May Deploy Dolphins to Fend Off Terrorism

Monday, Feb 12, 2007

Associated press


San Diego ~ Dozens of dolphins and sea lions trained to detect and apprehend waterborne attackers could be sent to patrol a military base in Washington state, the Navy said Monday.

In a notice published in this weeks Federal Regsiter, the Navy said it needs to bolster security at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, on the Puget Sound close to Seattle.

The base is home to submarines,ships and laboratories and is potentially vulnerable to attack by terrorist swimmers and scuba divers, the notice states.

Several options are under consideration, but the preferred plan would be to send as many as 30 Caliornia sea lions and Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins from the Navy's Marine Mammal Program, based in San Diego.

"These animals have the capabilities for what needs to be done for this particular mission," said Tom LaPuzza, a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Program.

LaPuzza said because of their astonishing sonar abilities,dolphines are excellent at patrolling for swimmers and divers. When a Navy dolphin detects a person in the water, it drops a beacon. This tells a human interception team where to ind the suspicious swimmer.

Dolphins also are trained to detect underwater mines; they were sent to do this in the Iraqi harbor of Umm Qasir in 2003. The last time the animals were used opperationally in San Diego was in 1996, when they patrolled the bay during the Republican national convention.

Sea lions can carry in their mouths special cufs attached to long ropes. If the animal finds a rogue swimmer, it can clamp the cuff around the person's leg. the individual can then be reeled in for questioning.

The navy is seeking public comment for an environmental impact statement on the proposal.

The navy wanted to deploy marine animals to the Northwest in 1989, La Puzza said, but a federal judge sided with an animal-activists concerned about the effects of cooler water, as well as how trhe creatures would affect the environment. Water in the Puget Sound is about 10 degrees cooler than in San  Diego harbor, which is an average temperature of about 58 degrees, LaPuzza said.

Since then, the Navy has taken the dolphins and sea lions to cold -water places like Alaska and Scandinavia to see how they cope.

"They did very well," LaPuzza said. If the animals are sent to Washington, the dolphins would be housed in heating enclosures and would patrol the bay only for periods of about two hours.

Stephanie Boyles, a marine biologist and spokeswoman for People of Ethical  Treatment of Animals, said that sea mammals do not provide a reliable defense system, and that they should not be kept in small enclosures.

"We believe the United States' citizens deserve the very best defense possible, and this just isn't it," Boyles said, adding that dolphins are easily distracted once in open water. "They don't understand the consequences of what will happen if they don't carry out the mission."

Dolphins can live as long as 30 years. LaPuzza said said the navy occassionaly gives it's retired animals to marine parks but generally keeps them until they die of old age.

The navy has been training marine mammals since the 1960's and keeps about 100 dolphins and sea lions. Most are in san Diego, but about 20 are deployedat Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.

The navy hopes eventually to downsizeit's marine mammal program and replace the animals with machines.

"But the technologyjust isn't there yet, " LaPuzza said. " The value of the marine mammals is we've been doing this for 35 years, and we've ironed out all the kinks."

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Posted: Feb 17, 2007 3:03pm
Feb 2, 2007

A warm Hawaii aloha to you all!!! Got a great little story to tell about my Arwen.

I named my magikal angel, Arwen ( yes....from the Lord of the Rings )The way she found us is a great and magikal story...so why not name her something magikal! There are a few cats that walk around out here in the military housing area, I know where just about each of their home's too Last night my son and I were walking from the little store around the corner...noticing how absolutely GOGREOUS these island full moons are...( bigger than any moon I have ever seen) anywho....this kitty comes running up to us....and stops right in front of us..as if to say..."hello...you shall not pass until you notice me!"

Absolutely gorgeous...one of the most gorgeous solid black kitties I have ever seen. Beautiful silky semi long fur...BRILLIANT green eyes...apparently well taken care of. NO collar...and as I found out this morning ( from going to my vet) NO chip in it's body. Well....I have asked around the neighborhood if anyone is missing a beautiful black cat...no one...so until anyone posts signs...she is all mine!


A neighbor tells me that some military families, when they move, dump their animals outside and go. This is illegal and punishable by fine, which it should be. Completely careless. She and Kaze have gotten to know each other and dwell nicely together. She is a new member of the family! I absolutly love her and her attitude...she is definitely MISS THANG. Reminds me of me..lol


Below, I have posted some pictures, I took this morning...enjoy!

Arwen

She loves the camera!

Pics from cell phones are not the best...but she is a beauty!

The energy the eyes bring!

Kaze sharing his gym with Arwen

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Posted: Feb 2, 2007 2:45pm
Jan 23, 2007

All too many times we meet people in our lives that require a dose of something. Wether it beacceptance from peers, family or just themselves......always a need......most times a mystery to the person in question. The need to be beautiful;both inside and outside. What a journey...what an assignment. It is true, to be truly beautiful on the outside one must exude beauty on the inside. How to exude true beauty? Now that is an easy question;but a hard prescription to follow. Be yourself, be honest and be true. Easy right? Carry on...go through a day without making up a story to make everyone think that you are the hero and the victim??? No way, you are not capable of doing anything wrong or any injustice? No way....not you! We all err as humans...this is true.....apparently only the true in heart and soul believe this.  To know thyself is to pry the lock from the brain and open up the soul.....unimaginable....completely naked. Can you takethat dare?  Cleansing yourself from the misdeeds you have done ,not to another person ( as it would seem), but more importantly, to yourself. Ask for forgiveness and never eneter that path again. There you will find true salvation.

Honesty, loyalty and Honor are the three contributing factors to a human being that believes in themselves and does not sell themselves short. If you truly believe you are worth it; then believe in yourself and not what others think you are made up of.

Stop cutting yourself down to the core and start building who you are inside; your best attributes.....your soul needs nourishment.

Stop blaming your past and family for problems you face today. Change is within you!Make it happen!You are a beautiful soul both inside and out. When you recognize the wonderfulwork that God does in each of His children, your attitude and honorand loyalty shines higher than your spoken word. Mean what you say and keep your vows/promises.

In order to be whole; one must be pure in mind and spirit.

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Posted: Jan 23, 2007 6:36pm
Jan 18, 2007

 

I am apart of a couple of groups that rally to fight hunger, aids and poverty around the world and right here at home. I sent a letter to our Congressman, Neil Abercrombie asking him to support funds on Global aidsand other deadly diseases that affect the poor population overseas as well as right here at home. I was pleased to see he is a supporter of this. Here is a copy of the letter he sent me recently:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Dena:

Thank you for contacting me about Global HIV/AIDS,
tuberculosis, and malaria foreign aid.  I appreciate your concern on
this issue.

In the past I have supported funds for this program, and I will
continue to do so in the future.  I am currently in contact with
members of the House Appropriations Committee in light of our
current budget situation about this and many other worthy
programs that face hardship because of the irresponsibility of the
109th Congress's majority leadership.

Mahalo for writing to me, and please do not hesitate to contact me
at any time.

         


Sincerely,

Neil Abercrombie
Member of Congress

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I have come to find out that our Hawaiian government have a better view on things than the ones I am used to in Texas. I think other states should take a look at the enviornmental issues that Hawaii is so serious about. The one thing I am concerned about is the huge amount of homeless here in Hawaii. I have talked to a few people about this and have found out that alot of our homeless are military vets. I am thinking something is wrong with this picture, aren't we supposed to take care of those who have served our country?? I have walked around and observed and have even spoken to some of the homeless around where I live. Alot of them are mentally ill and drug addicts. Most of them have no where to turn for help. I have snapped alot of pictures of the homeless around here, taking shelter under bridges, in bushes in between the beautiful landscapes that Hawaii works so hard to maintain and pitching tents up near local beaches. The police have no trouble shooing them away, especially around Christmas time...because they want the Hawaii roads to be a pleasant sight for tourists. Drugs and homelessness are a HUGE problem here in Hawaii. I was pleased to find out Hawaii is starting to build shleters and housing for the homeless. I will leave you with a recent Wall Street Journal article about this problem, that pretty much sums up this HUGE issue here.

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Wall Street Journal runs article on Hawai'i homeless -->endheadline-->

..s --> --> endlinks -->

-->Byline-->Advertiser Staff -->EndByline-->

-->Photo--> -->TextBody-->The Wall Street Journal today ran a front page story on the homeless problem in Hawai'i. The headlines were "Trouble in Paradise; Hawai'i's housing boom takes a toll on the Homeless; In a prospering state, high rents are hurdle; Beaches as shantytowns." Here is the story:

By RAFAEL GERENA-MORALES

The Wall Street Journal

WAIANAE, Hawaii — Rising before dawn, Patrick Wong walks 45 minutes to his drugstore job in Kapolei, a suburban town 20 miles west of Honolulu, where he stocks shelves starting at 7 a.m. The post pays $8.25 an hour and offers health insurance for Mr. Wong, his wife and partially deaf toddler.

But Mr. Wong, 33 years old, and his family can't afford a place to live. Five months ago they left his mother's home, where he was paying $600 a month in rent. Faced with the steepest rents of any state and scant available public housing, they were forced to join Hawaii's swelling homeless ranks.

Roughly 6,000 people in the state are without permanent shelter, according to Hawaii's Homeless Programs Division. That's nearly double the number without homes in 1999. Increasingly, this population consists of working families with children. Some, like the Wongs, live in city-run shelters. Others have taken up residence on the beach, turning Hawaii's picturesque shores into homeless encampments where hundreds of people live in tents pitched on the sand.

One big factor behind Hawaii's homelessness is the housing boom that swept across the U.S. Run-ups in home prices displaced families nationwide, but the problem in Hawaii — where land costs are more than five times the national average — is particularly acute.

In recent years, investors and second-home buyers swooped in to buy up properties. Developers targeted aging apartment complexes to convert into swank condos and luxury rentals. As home values shot up, many of the state's low-paid service workers watched from the sidelines. Affordable housing dwindled, while waiting lists for federally funded public units ballooned. Rental rates for available units surged.

Median rents in Hawaii are currently the highest in the nation. The going monthly rate for a typical two-bedroom apartment is about $1,901, up $792, or 71 percent, from 2001, according to Ricky Cassiday, a housing analyst in Honolulu. Average wages for Hawaiian workers, meanwhile, were $36,355 in 2005, the last year for which figures are available. That compares with a national average of $40,675 in the same year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

"For many of the working poor, the housing boom has passed them by," said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. "They've missed a critical opportunity to begin building housing wealth."

Hawaii's homelessness rate is cresting as other states are finding more ways to help displaced residents. In recent years, many cities, including New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore., have sharply reduced their chronically homeless populations — people who live on the street for one year or more — by offering subsidized housing with an array of social and health services. Hawaii officials say they are studying similar approaches.

Overall, an estimated 744,313 people were homeless in the U.S. in January 2005, according to a report released Wednesday (Wednesday, Jan 10.)by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. The study showed that states with high rates of homelessness included Hawaii, California, Nevada and Alaska.

Hawaii's economy is robust. In 2005, the hot real-estate market, coupled with record tourism business, helped Hawaii rank as the ninth strongest state economy, measured by annual GDP growth, which was 5.3 percent. That was a sharp turnaround from 1997 to 2004 when annual GDP growth averaged just 1.4 percent. Hawaii also has the nation's lowest unemployment rate, at 2.3 percent in November compared with the 4.5 percent national average in the same month.

But the homelessness problem looms as an economic threat. Hawaii, whose current population is about 1.3 million, needs affordable housing to attract and retain service workers amid a tight labor market. The beach encampments also hurt Hawaii's postcard image as a top vacation destination. Hawaii's Tourism Authority says it has received some comments from visitors who said they felt uncomfortable seeing homeless people in parks or at the beaches. Last summer Gov. Linda Lingle declared an emergency situation on the west coast of Oahu, citing the public-health threat of human waste on the beaches.

Mismanagement of the state's limited public-housing stock has aggravated the situation. Hawaii has about 6,230 government-subsidized units. The state has complained that it lacks the resources to keep existing structures in good repair. In Honolulu, wood planks cover the windows of some vacant apartments. In all, roughly 700, or 11 percent, of the units are vacant, with almost half of those waiting to be renovated or demolished, according to the governor's office.

"We're focused on turning around vacant units and getting them operating so that we can house more people," says Pamela Dodson, an executive assistant at the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.

Linda Smith, the governor's senior policy adviser, says public-housing units fell into disrepair because federal housing subsidies declined as costs to operate the apartments were increasing. Initiatives to build other affordable rental units fell through, she says, after Hawaii's state legislature took $212 million partly earmarked for low-interest construction loans and used the funds to pay other expenses, including salary increases for state workers.

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees public-housing agencies nationwide, placed Hawaii's public-housing agency on its "troubled" list. It ordered the agency to overhaul its management practices. A year later, HUD removed Hawaii's housing agency from the list as it reduced 120 concerns to 10 that still needed improvement, including repairing apartments faster.

Even as the housing market here cools, barriers to affordable housing remain. Hawaii's unionized construction workers have kept the sector's wages high relative to other states. Transportation costs are steep since building materials must be imported into Hawaii and ferried between its islands. The state also has many sacred burial grounds and endangered species and plants that can slow or halt projects, developers say. The result: Building low-cost rental units "is like climbing Mount Everest," says Stanford Carr, president of Stanford Carr Development, a Honolulu-based builder.

Nearly 16,000 people are on the state's public-housing waiting list, which typically turns over every three to six years. The waiting time is one to two years for some housing candidates, including homeless families living in shelters. Currently, 4,000 people have also applied for federal housing vouchers that subsidize private-sector apartment rents. The voucher waiting list was recently reopened after being closed for several years. It generally takes people three to five years to get such vouchers.

So far, the state has largely focused its relief efforts on the island of Oahu, whose homeless population of roughly 3,500 is Hawaii's biggest. Last year, officials opened three shelters on the island that serve about 650 homeless people. A 300-person shelter that will offer job training and social services is slated to open next month. Also, about 1,215 affordable rental apartments are under development and are set to be completed by 2009, according to the governor's office. State agencies are tapping tax revenues from house sales and other sources to provide developers with low-interest loans to build these projects.

Recently completed transitional housing includes an emergency shelter, opened in October, that houses 215 people in Kapolei. About half of the residents are children who had lived with their parents in tents on the beach along Oahu's west coast, also known as the Leeward Coast.

Kathi Culla, 40, lives with her boyfriend and two young daughters on a Leeward Coast beach. The unemployed couple pitched tents that shelter their mattresses and cooler, which recently stored Kool-Aid juice drinks and root-beer soda cans. A nearby wood shack provides privacy for a portable toilet and a hanging garden hose that serves as a shower head.

Their tents are illuminated at night by a string of auto tail lights — resembling Christmas-tree bulbs — that are connected through jumper cables to an old car battery. "Nobody pays attention to us out here," Ms. Culla says.

In early 2006, Patrick Wong and his family still had a place to live. They were staying at his parent's three-bedroom home in Waianae, a poor city on Oahu's west coast, where he paid $600 in monthly rent. But Mr. Wong says his mother asked him to leave in August after they had a falling out. Friends couldn't accommodate the family, so they spent a little more than two months living in a tent on the beach before moving to a shelter.

Mr. Wong says he tries to forget about his problems by working hard at his job, where he drives a forklift and stocks shelves with rice, noodles, candy and canned goods. In November, while carrying two 35-pound boxes of Campbell's tomato soup on his shoulders, his back "kind of popped," recalls Mr. Wong. He says he ignored a doctor's advice to rest for a month so that his slipped disk could heal.

So far, Mr. Wong has saved one-third of the $3,000 he hopes to someday put toward a security deposit and rent. Even though market rates are still beyond his budget, Mr. Wong says he'll work harder to end his family's homelessness, "even if it kills me."

Kasty Kosam is another full-time worker whose family is homeless. Mr. Kosam, 38, his wife and teenage son had to leave their one-bedroom apartment in April 2005, he says, after he fell two months behind on the $600 monthly rent. Mr. Kosam, who earns $8-an-hour driving a truck that delivers vegetables to hotels and restaurants, moved his family to his parent's one-bedroom apartment in the Kalihi section of Honolulu. But they left three months later because other relatives overcrowded the apartment, which now shelters 10 people.

About six months ago, Mr. Kosam's wife landed a job packing vegetables at the same company paying $200 a week. Yet the couple remain homeless because they can't afford rents for one-bedroom apartments that average $900 a month in Kalihi.

Mr. Kosam, whose family sleeps at an overnight shelter in Honolulu, has been on the waiting list for a public-housing apartment since 2000. His application for a federal housing voucher was rejected in September because his family's income was too high, he says. "It makes me sick to think about high rents," says Mr. Kosam, a former agricultural worker from Micronesia who moved to Hawaii in 2000. "I need somebody to help me."

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Posted: Jan 18, 2007 12:08pm

 

 
 
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Dena Pettingill
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