Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Article Submission to the Garden Island RE WAR ON THE POOR



Guest Article
Garden Island Newspaper
Anne Punohu
Kalaheo Kauai
Kauai Fair Housing Law Coalition
Kauai DHS Clients Coalition
Editor, Nathan Eagle
Submitted by Email on April 7, 2010
The War Against The Poor: Evictions, Access and Persecution
When I first tell someone about what I know is occurring within DHS, and especially within the
Housing Department here in Hawaii, most people are incredulous and rightly so. I get totally shocked
reactions form people, who frankly don't or won't believe me and think I have finally gone off the deep
end. They cannot believe that such actions would be taken against those least able to defend
themselves or even speak up for them selves for fear of retribution and swift actions taken against
them. The oppressed and persecuted individuals fear even the slightest utterance of discontent could
mean that they will find themselves on the beach, subjected to rousting by officials and herded into
facilities where they feel nervous and uncomfortable and constantly watched and monitored. Even their
right to fresh air is taken away, and especially freedom of movement. They are rousted from their
homes where they have lived peaceably, paying rent and following the rules and forced back out onto
the street, where they will be rousted yet again and forced back into institutions that again are not
conducive to feeling safe or comfortable and again their freedom of movement is curtailed. Their
services having been drastically cut, both in medical benefits and in food allowances. They are a hated
and despised group. They are virtually blamed for every ill, and all of the fiscal shortfalls are being
places squarely upon their backs. At the same time, they are required to work whatever jobs may come
their way whatever the job is. Refusal to agree to perform the job and they will be cut off from food
rations and assistance of any kind. Failure to comply will have swift retribution.
This sounds like a chapter straight out of a Holocaust victims diary doesn't it? Sad to say, my friends, it
is not. It is the future of so called Public housing in the so called State of Hawaii where people are
supposed to be a free people and treated equally and free from persecution by the Government.
However this is not the case. A well thought out war plan has been conceived, planned and is being
methodically carried out by Government leaders and officials, to create a final solution to the problem
of the poor in Hawaii. That final solution is to psychologically impose a belief on the people that they
are not wanted, are a burden, and are the cause of all of the ills of this State, and that they have a moral
obligation to either become wealthy somehow, find housing food and medicine somehow without the
aid of the state. If you still have the audacity to hope for care, then you had better understand that your
lives and the lives of your children rest in the fickle hands of department heads who are gleefully
making rules and regulations made to break your spirit, break your will, and break you.
Now by now you are all thinking I am a complete madwoman. What in the heck am I babbling about?
How dare I make comparisons with the victims of the Holocaust and the cushy and luxurious life that
Hawaii's working poor, poor, handicapped and elderly live here. What am I thinking?
Here are some facts for you to consider. In England, where there is a housing crunch Government
housing is provided. There is no limit to the amount of years you can live there. In the Philippines,
Government housing residents are allowed to coop services, and create their own cooperative business
to give themselves employment. In Africa, Habitat for Humanity has provided thousands and thousands
and thousands of housing units, and given people hope for a brighter future. None of these residents
will ever have to leave those homes.
To be perfectly honest, in Hawaii, Habitat is the real public housing provider, and not the state. They
have shown far more compassion to the people then the state has. The county housing agency has
created affordable housing that is not affordable, and a little over a year ago refused to acknowledge
that there was discrimination in housing here on Kauai, the highest in the state where landlords were
blatantly advertising against Section 8 voucher holders refusing to allow them to apply for housing.
When the Housing agency was asked to help support legislation to prevent this from happening they
refused, especially the Kauai County Housing agency.
The animosity in the County Housing Agency against my efforts continues to this day, where the
second in command was recently involved in a screaming match with me, and was highly rude and
disrespectful. But by that time there were no cameras around to record the incident. I was told how dare
I speak to this person, how dare I tell them what do to, how dare I use a tone with this person, etc.
Exactly as if I had no rights as a human being, and that I was not as good as this person. To say that I
was offended and upset by this is an understatement. To this day this individual has offered me no
public apology as yet. I suppose I don't deserve one, since I am only a public housing resident, and a
receiver of welfare. Despite the fact that I have worked for many years and been a productive member
of society. Not only that, I am also made to feel, that because I am disabled, I should sit down and shut
up. If I can speak at a meeting I should be able to get out there and sling boxes all night at a retail store.
The veiled threat is always there. I walk a dangerous tightrope every time I dare to speak out. That is an
absolute fact.
Here in Hawaii, however, the picture looks serious and very bleak for Hawaii's Public Housing
residents. According to recent statements made at the March 19th meeting of a legislative informational
committee, Representative Cabanilla, a Democrat and the head of the housing committee made these
statements. There are direct quotes and not exaggerations:
“Of course we are going to bring the rich into public housing. We know that if we do this, the rich will
emulate the poor. It has been proven.”
“We have plans to evict all of these intergenerational families that have been living in housing far too
long. Why, there are mothers there who are living there with children and even their grandchildren!
They need to get out, and make room for others we need to get into public housing.”
“Of course, public housing has been sold. Yes, that is true.”
“Because the handicapped, and the elderly will never be able to contribute enough to society to be
useful or afford their own places, we will provide a small apartment, and thats that. They will stay
To say that the room, full of DHS workers, who are about to lose their jobs were extremely shocked,
but nobody was more shocked then I was. I had been investigating and trying to decipher the new “5
year plan” for housing, which I was told was a “One year plan”, to find the things I knew were not
right. There was something inherently sinister about this years plan. The plan was full of cleverly
written statements, to the effect that
“Bringing in higher incomes is a priority. In order to do this, we will be offering special incentives,
such as cable, electric and phone hookup allowances for them, as well as special landscaping and
I had to fight hard to get my testimony in regarding the proposal, when it was discovered that we were
supposed to have a resident board representing us but that Kauai actually had none. I read the RAB
reports, which showed that RAB members had serious concerns about the proposal. I came up with
solid and fail proof methods of solving the collection issue which they were using as a basis for
evictions. This was included in the final draft, but it was approved without any final input form anyone.
No suggestions were ever considered, they were merely recorded for forms sake. The final tally was 9
persons had testified statewide on the proposal. I was the only one at the Kauai meeting. Just me. By
myself. It became obvious to me that there was a concerted effort to keep information from the general
public regarding the content of the proposal even though the newspapers had tried to get the
information out.
With the double whammy of offices closing, and possible evictions of thousands of Public Housing
residents for doing nothing wrong, it became clear to me that this was not just a normal thing. This was
a war. A persecution of an entire class of people, whose utter destruction was the goal of government
officials and leaders. Later, a few days we heard about further cuts to welfare benefits, the displacement
of people who are holding down essentially minimum wage jobs and need the assistance just to feed
their families , and the cutting back of medical services to quest beneficiaries.
When the entire state looks to the poor to carry their fiscal burdens, rousts them like chickens, in
shameful acts of inhumane mistreatment, trying to herd people into facilities they do not want to go to,
and take away social workers, benefits and housing, what I ask you does that sound like to you?
Does it ring a familiar bell in historical context? Does the fact that the working poor, homeless, elderly
and disabled in this state are made up highly disproportionately of Native Hawaiians, Polynesian
Immigrants, and immigrants from other Asian countries mean something to any of you? Perhaps not.
Perhaps you are embittered against a group of people whom you stereotypically want to label as
alcoholics, drug addicts and loser white trash from the mainland.
:et me ask you a question. Do any of you have family who have been to a war zone? Or family who
have survived ethnic cleansing, or persecution? DO any of you know what it means when you
persecute an entire class of citizens, and denigrate them to the rubbish heap just because you can?
Don't think I get any help from my own people either. Want to know why there aren't crowds of us out
in the street? Because we are psychologically controlled, beaten down and terrified to speak out, as
most persecuted groups of people are. Everyone is afraid of coming out and speaking out. In fact, they
don't believe me either. I can't get anyone to listen to me. No one wants to believe that this horrible
event will take place. No one.
But perhaps,. After reading this article, your eyes may be opened. You may finally be willing and able
to find your voice and stand up and fight this. You may find some shred of pride left. I know, they have
beaten it out of you, but we must try. We cannot let this happen. We must let the world know of our
plight here in Hawaii, and what they want to perpetuate against us, the class of people that they think
have no power, no voice, and should just shut up sit down behave and be quiet. We are to obey all of
their orders, and their laws, and go where they herd us. If a rule comes down one day we can do one
thing, then the next day a rule comes down and reverses that we are to comply. We are not to be seen by
the general public.
If you find this as appalling as I do, and if you are sick of being treated like this and subjected to this
sort of a brutal regime, then I urge you to become freedom fighters. I don't mean in a physical sense. I
mean help me to organize protests, and help me to find mainland attorneys who will swoop in here, and
help us with class action lawsuits. Help me to get the word out to independent filmmakers, and the
outside world. Shame them. Prove what you now know. Expose this to the world. I will not go out of
this housing easily. Nor will I allow my fellow humans out on the street to be herded like cattle into
institutions where there is no hope for housing. We must stop this persecution. I call on each and every
one of you with a shred of humanity in you to help stop this abominable war against the poor.
Anne Punohu
Kauai Citizen
Kauai Fair Housing Law Coalition
Kauai DHS Clients Coalition.

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