Homeless in Hawaii

Homeless in Hawaii

First Documentary (2017)

Film Review

Despite recent publicity about the high level of homelessness in Los Angeles, it turns out that Hawaii is the state with the highest rate of homelessness.

This documentary begins by exploring local efforts to criminalize homelessness via their “sit and lie” laws (which make it illegal to sit or lie on the sidewalk). Hawaii Kai, the second richest post code in the US, has a residents vigilante group patrolling the streets for homeless people to report to the police.

A quote by one of their wealthier members is absolutely priceless: “You can’t have a society where one factor just takes and takes and takes.” Ironically she is referring to homeless people – even though her comment is far more pertinent to the wealthy elite she belongs to.

The film goes on to profile a campaign by Hawaii state senator Josh Green to use state Medicaid funds to enable doctors to prescribe “housing” for homeless patients. At present Hawaii spends more than a billion a year on emergency medical care for the homeless (for hepatitis, chronic infections and other conditions linked to homelessness). Green argues that millions could be saved by preventing these patients from becoming homeless in the first place.

In the last segment filmmakers visit an extremely well-organized, self-governing homeless tent city one hour from Honolulu.