“When we built the Clean & Safe program for Wailuku we received so much more than a security service or property management company in return. We literally have a network of coaches who are there to educate, guide, and SUPPORT the Wailuku Town community, lending a helping hand to those that need it most.”
The County’s Clean & Safe Program oversees the public properties within Wailuku and works with property owners to keep their buildings and land safe and secure, while connecting people in crisis with social services and housing programs.
The Clean & Safe Program program was established in 2016 in response to a crisis that had reached a breaking point in Wailuku Town on Maui. There was a growing number of vagrants, the mentally ill, substance abusers and homeless on the streets. Merchants were afraid to walk to their cars after hours, business was down throughout town and residents were calling their Councilmember to complain about safety concerns. Enter retired Police Officer Lawrence Kauha‘aha‘ai, whom Erin Wade at the County of Maui Department of Management convinced to oversee the Clean & Safe program, with the support of his “coaches” and a network of social service providers.
Today, this impactful program plays a key role in ensuring Wailuku’s economic vitality, keeping our community safe, and improving the quality of life for those in need.
Yes, we constantly keep track of the work that we do and are always looking for opportunities on how we can better. Below are some stats of a typical work week (subject to change):
After working around the neighborhood and seeing the level of compassion the business owners had for the homeless, even though it was causing problems, I thought we could try something that I was hoping would be a win-win. I approached Greg Payton at Mental Health Kokua and suggested we use some of his Wailuku clients for the cleaning portion of the project. I was hoping this would give them pride and ownership in the neighborhood while getting them job experience. People really need a purpose; a reason to get up in the morning and I thought this could be it for some of their clients. I also knew people were seeing Mental Health as a liability in the neighborhood, but I knew it was key to providing the solution. Having them as a neighbor is a huge blessing so I thought, why not bring them in as a partner.
It’s been great. Honestly, I wish I could give the cleaning crews more hours. They have been doing such a good job. The staff at Mental Health Kokua (MHK) is incredible. Whenever our Safety Team encounters someone that seems to be in crisis, we contact the staff at MHK and they send a social worker right away. Their team is well trained and often has a history with the folks we regularly encounter so together we can monitor people and do our best to make sure they are getting the help they need. We have had several really good success stories working together.
My dad was a Marine and served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He had issues with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My wife, who is a therapist, thinks I must have figured out at a very early age how to read people and situations. I use humor a lot. Between my dad and grandmother, who was bi-polar, I had a lot of experience with alternative ways of thinking (he says with a chuckle). She was very uncooperative with the rest of my family but somehow she and I just got along and I could get her to do what she was supposed to do.
Temperament. Personality. They are all really good guys and they all have a connection to Wailuku. They are people I have coached with before and I know them to see the good in every person, but also as people who can motivate and provide constructive correction. They aren’t out to establish their authority or embarrass anyone. They are simply there to establish a level of acceptable, civil behavior.
Uniforms can be counter productive – even when I was a police officer I didn’t always wear the uniform. There are lots of people who have trouble with authority and having the uniform on can just set an interaction off on the wrong foot. The safety team is the bridge between the person in crisis and the social worker, police or medical staff. They need to look like someone people can relate to.
Our progress has been good. Issues with vagrancy and anti-social behavior come in waves as homeless get displaced or shuffled from one program to another. It is something we have to constantly keep on top of. The holiday season was especially busy for us but you have to think; while everyone is celebrating and decorating the people on the street are thinking how all of this joy and happiness isn’t for them. It can bring out behaviors we might not have to deal with otherwise. But overall, we are moving in the right direction.
“Life running a business in Wailuku (prior to 2016) revolved around daily confrontations with individuals and groups who were camped out on our sidewalks - drinking, leaving trash, human waste and alcohol containers behind. It was a challenge and sometimes a danger to enter or exit storefronts. Those days have passed. The street scene is friendly, the sidewalks are clean and indeed safe, and it has occurred without harm or conflict. Wailuku’s Clean and Safe program has positively transformed our town.”
“Clean and Safe has made Wailuku Town a better place to run a business. I appreciate the back up when dealing with mentally ill and houseless people. I feel safer when I walk to my car after dark. I feel more supported and truly like I’m being looked out for thanks to the clean and safe team.”
Learn more about offenses against property rights, trespass warnings, authorization to the Police, Citizen’s Arrest, and view sample forms.