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Not everyone can pass this fitness test

VIEWPOINT

Let’s be clear Council Member Tasha Kama, we are not “all on the same team.” One doesn’t need expert knowledge to recognize proposing Bill 12.55 would divide our community and challenge core values. As a 30-year professional with diverse expertise in this field, this is not a casual misunderstanding of “perceived as punitive.” As the Affordable Housing Chair, this cavalier comment demonstrates a clear lack of knowledge that this legislation directly falls within the purview of criminalizing those assisting the unsheltered and is punitive.

Bill 12.55 (which was unanimously filed though may return in another form), underscores the magnitude of deficiency demonstrated around promoting health during this pandemic. Those unsheltered experience real and present spiritual, physical and emotional dangers. Those knowledgeable understand this severity. After reading the succinct editorial on Nov. 14, context and perspective must be created encompassing the “Prohibition of distribution of goods and funds in public areas without provision of wraparound services (PAF 20-28).” It is imperative to hear the ethical, moral, and systemic justification behind the comment, “Introduced a bill to nudge these folks into housing by temporarily making it a crime.”

Share Your Mana emailed and called to gain insight and received no response. After over 9 months and hundreds of attempts to be a part of pandemic solutions with the mayor’s and her office, Department of Housing and Human Concerns, Maui Homeless Alliance, and Department of Health, my mailbox and phone remain remarkably quiet from multiple proposed solutions. The only headway SYM is making is to repeatedly continue to try to stop harmful actions and dangerous legislation by Council Member Kama and the Mayor’s Office.

Consider Mayor Victorino previously closing all parks knowing full well hundreds (possibly thousands) depend upon the bathrooms and water sources for survival at the onset of the Shelter In Place declaration with absolutely zero accommodations. Continued silence from Council Member Kama’s office on the known encampments in her district which were dangerously affected along with disregarding CDC guidelines to end sweeps, SYM immediately began providing critical basic needs and publicly telling true stories, educating in real time with their voices, many of whom are on two-year- long waitlists for housing and detox beds.

Share Your Mana has shown up for decades in various forms, to grind into the deeply lodged structural and emotional barriers which hinder progress. We need more leadership that courageously welcomes all voices to integrate solutions. The series of community panel meetings Kihei Council Member King (with the Kihei Delta Project) held are good examples. SYM presented with a resident with lived experience. Inclusivity promotes recovery, not inciting fear during a pandemic.

Adding extra layers of confusion stalls progress and to join Kama’s scheduled virtual community meeting, one must email invitation-feeding-bill@mauicounty.us. The Q & A will be on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. If accepted (yes, if) a link will be sent to the meeting. Today I received my link invite to the “restricted meeting.” Does this not sound alarms? Everyone affected needs a seat at the table. And what about the digital divide which affects residents who have no access to this meeting because they have no Wi-Fi or data?

This proposed legislation deeply hits on cultural, emotional, and legal issues which throw enormous confusion on solutions. We are now busy defending our cultural and civil rights, distracted from solutions. The statements and carelessness from Council Member Kama require clear responses viewed through the lens of a pandemic. Identifying perspective and balance can often feel like a criticism. This viewpoint serves to open perspective and restore balance.

“I never meant to create a firestorm, but at least we’re talking about it . . . They’re mad but once we start talking we realize were all on the same team.” Again, I respectfully disagree. We need a chair of the Affordable Housing Committee who drives solutions and not reckless legislation. Time is not on the side of those living unsheltered who have a reduced life expectancy of 17 years. Maui needs elected officials who possess ability and grace to step away when the task is too big before more damage is done.

* Lisa Seikai Darcy is the founder of Share Your Mana. She concluded her term as Hawaii Public Housing Authority State Board member in June. She is the lead facilitator with Ka Ipu Ha’a Women’s Mentoring at Maui County Correctional Center.

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