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Lawmaker takes sledgehammer to Hawaii homeless’ carts

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(CNN) — Hawaii state lawmaker Tom Brower was fed up with the state’s homeless problem. His solution, however, left him branded a vigilante.

Brower took a sledgehammer to abandoned shopping carts.

“I get a lot of complaints about stolen and abandoned shopping carts in Waikiki, and I was thinking as a public servant, ‘What can I do that would be practical and I can literally do overnight,'” Brower told CNN affiliate KITV.

“I’m not doing anything different than doing a community cleanup, or what the city’s administration has tried to do with the issue of people illegally camping on the streets,” he insisted. “I’m just doing it quicker.”

He began in late October and estimated that he destroyed about 30 of the carts, which are often used by homeless people.

It’s not advisable (and) not smart,” the state’s homeless coordinator Colin Kippen told KITV. “It’s mean-spirited and is vigilante justice.”

Callers to Brower’s office slammed the lawmaker. “What if I smash his car up with a sledgehammer ’cause I don’t like what I see,” one caller said, according to CNN affiliate KGMB.

Brower decided to stop. “I guess I shouldn’t use the sledgehammer because it’s a really loaded image,” he told KGMB.

Hawaii’s homeless problem

The controversy marks the latest chapter in Hawaii’s struggle with homelessness. Hawaii has the highest rate of homeless per capita of any state — about 45 people out of every 10,000, according to the Homelessness Research Institute. The only area with a higher rate is Washington, D.C., at about 113 per 10,000.

Beautiful weather and generous public assistance programs have helped attract people to Hawaii; very high housing costs have added to the homelessness levels.

One homeless man, Kawika Crowley, ran a long-shot campaign for U.S. Congress in November.

In August, the state legislature approved a pilot program to offer plane tickets off the islands for some homeless people. “We’re going to send them back to their family, a strong support network system where they can get back on their feet,” Rep. John Mizuno said at the time, adding that the plan would “save our taxpayers a substantial amount of money.”

New York and San Francisco have paid to relocate thousands of homeless people in recent years.

Brower wants to see Hawaii take other steps, as well. “I believe we should have some type of homeless campground because a lot of people on the streets, either they don’t have the discipline to go to the shelter, or they don’t want to,” he told KITV.


  • Pam McCall

    There is so much to be said concerning this, First off those homeless people aren’t out there living on the streets by choice, at least not all anyway. Farthermore so much stuff has been taking away from them already the number one thing being their dignity!!! And you go and do this?? Most of you all in higher positions look down on these homeless people as if they were nothing but trash, but you couldnt be more wrong!! You know why other states have paid the homeless to leave their states? because they dont want to look at them or figure out a solution to the problem, Instead all ya’ll want to do is sweep it under the carpet or ship them off to the next state so someone else will have to figure out a solution. They are shipping them away from their home towns where they know how to survive and where to go to get what little help they can to a new state where they know nothing let alone figure out how to survive there or where to go to get the resources to help them. And you call that fixing the problem??? Most all of you in offices have luxurious homes and fancy cars, and don’t have to worry about how you’re going to get your bills paid this month, because your parents were fortunate enough to be able to afford the schooling ya’ll needed to hold the positions you currently have, but most of those homeless people didnt have that luxury! Some had to quit school to help with the siblings or to help pay the bills or help on the farmland, and then some families just didnt have the funds to keep paying for schooling period! So here’s a challenge for you all out there who are tired of the homeless, walk away from your luxurious homes and fancy cars and expensive clothes and go live in the homeless shelters with no money and luxuries for about a week and i can bet you’ll come out with a whole new outlook on the situation of the homeless and no longer looking down your noses at them!!! Take the challenge I DARE YOU!!!!!

  • RamGrl

    My parents didn’t send me to school, I sent myself and paid for it on my own. I don’t have to worry about paying my bills because I work, don’t use drugs and am not an alcoholic. The “homeless” people here are homeless because people basically pay them to be. They stand on the street corner for a few hours and bring in more than I make in a week. Then when it isn’t warm here anymore (because unlike Hawaii, Virginia has seasons), they mysteriously vanish….until next spring. Why? Because they’re going to a warmer climate to scrub off of people there. Hawaii has a huge homeless problem because it’s warm all year and they cater to the homeless by proving them with everything they need to survive. Ever wonder why there aren’t a ton of homeless people in places like Montana or North Dakota? There ya go

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