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Chinatown Program Would Set Up Police Foot Patrols, Help Re-House Homeless

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Honolulu city officials say they are working with the police department to set up foot patrols in Chinatown. There is still no start date for the plan, which Managing Director Mike Formby confirmed to the City Council a couple of weeks ago.

At the last Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board meeting, there was a presentation about a recent pilot program involving law enforcement and local nonprofit groups.

The program is aimed at treating low-level illegal activity offenders outside the criminal justice system.

Heather Lusk, executive director of the Hawai‘i Health and Harm Reduction Center, said the program had a direct impact on dozens of people.

“I know that 55 people probably seems a very small drop in the bucket, but we were able to house 42 of those 55. They’re still off the streets and housed out of Chinatown, out of the surrounding areas, and we’ve been able to re-house a couple of folks that fell into homelessness," she said at the meeting.

"The last 13, we are actively looking to get them housed and none of them are currently in Chinatown. So I’m happy to say that that was 55 people that were on the street struggling with mental health and substance issues that we were able to work with over time, get into housing and now keep them in housing," Lusk told the neighborhood board.

The University of Hawai‘i is analyzing the $200,000 pilot program called the Law Enforcement and Assisted Diversion, or LEAD, to calculate the money saved by keeping those re-housed people out of the criminal justice system.

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