• This information is provided as a public education service of the ACLU of Hawai‘i Foundation.
  • This information is general in nature and not intended to be legal advice. For legal advice, consult an attorney.
  • This information includes positive changes to City & County of Honolulu practices resulting from the ACLU of Hawai‘i/Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing lawsuit Martin v. City & County of Honolulu.
  • The Stored Property Ordinance (“SPO”) and Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance (“SNO”) only apply to City & County of Honolulu (“City”) property. Different rules apply to State-owned property (such as Sand Island Park), Hawai‘i Community Development Authority-owned property (such as the Kaka‘ako Community Development District), and Federally owned property (such as Fort DeRussy beach and park). As a general rule, it is illegal to camp on any of these properties without a permit.
  • For more information on the differences in your rights on these properties, visit our First Amendment Toolkit here.
  • In 2015, the ACLU of Hawai‘i submitted a complaint to U.S. Department of Justice over City of Honolulu's Criminalization of Homelessness. Read more here.

 

1. A sweep is happening right now, what are my rights?

Q.A sweep is happening right now, what are my rights?
A.

You have the right to collect your things prior to a sweep. The City must give you 30 minutes to gather your things. Even if the City has roped off the area (by putting yellow plastic tape around your tent, for example), you can still enter the roped off area to get your things. After 30 minutes, you must stay outside the taped area, or face arrest. If you have a disability, the City must make reasonable accommodations and give you extra time.

Even when a park is closed, you have the right to go into the park to get your things. Even at night when the park is closed, the City must still give you 30 minutes to get your things from inside the park. During those 30 minutes, police officers cannot arrest you or give you a ticket for being in the park after closing hours. If you are arrested or cited for violating park closure rules when trying to get your things, please contact the ACLU of Hawaii.

You have the right for property collected in a sweep to be treated with respect. The City is required to store almost everything collected in a sweep, and you have the right to get it back later. The City must be reasonably careful when putting your things into bins. It must try to store wet and dry things separately. If you are present during the sweep, the City will give you a receipt for items stored called an “SPO/SNO tag.” If you are not present, the City is required to place an “SPO/SNO tag” in the general area (usually on a pole or tree) to indicate what was taken. This tag has a number on it. KEEP THIS TAG, it can help speed the process of reclaiming your property. If you cannot or do not find a tag, don’t worry, you can still reclaim your property.

If the City throws your property away, the City must video record the reasons why the property was thrown away. The City is not required to store things like propane canisters, car batteries, and aerosol cans; illegal, non-prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia (including pipes and rolling papers); cardboard; or items that are clearly trash.

If you’re present when the City does the sweep, you can take these items during the 30-minute window to avoid having the City throw them away. If you’re not present, the City can throw these items away. The City is required to video their explanation why they are throwing it away (and you have the right to look at these videos – see below for more information). You do not have the right to take illegal drugs, weapons, or other paraphernalia, but you do have the right to take your medical marijuana.

What will the City do with my medical marijuana and paraphernalia? If you can show (at the time of the sweep) that you have a valid medical marijuana registration, the City will allow you to take your marijuana and related paraphernalia (for example, medical marijuana, rolling papers and pipes).

What will the City do with my food? If you are there when the City does the sweep, you can take your food with you. If you’re not there, the City must store any non-perishable food items (for example, canned food). If the food is perishable (for example, milk or cooked rice), the City will leave it alone for 1 hour. After that, the City may throw it away.

What will the City do with my hygiene items? The City will store your hygiene and toiletry products, including shampoo, conditioner, and soap. However, the City will not store anything in an aerosol can (for example, hairspray or spray-on deodorant).

What will the City do with my wood pallets? The City will throw away your wood pallets, but will replace them for free. If the City throws away your wood pallets, it will write the number of pallets on the SPO/SNO tag. You can take this tag to the Hālawa Storage Yard, and you will be given the exact same number of wood pallets for free when you show your “SPO/SNO tag”.

What if my property is wet, smelly, or has bugs? Generally, the City is required to store all your property, even if it’s dirty, smelly, or soiled. However, if your property is so dirty that “no reasonable person could think it could be cleaned or re-used,” the City does not have to store it and will throw it away, after making a video recording that they are doing so.

Can I get advance warning that sweeps are coming? With some exceptions, yes. The City posts notice on its website by 3 P.M. of where and when it is planning to do sweeps the next day. You can find the notice online by clicking here. On the right-hand side of the page, under the “Hot Links,” click on the link titled “SNO/SPO Stipulation Notice.”   You can also get notice through Twitter or Facebook (keep reading for information on how to receive notices on your phone).

The City does not have to give notice for a sweep if your property poses a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the public or to the “orderly management of public property.” If this happens, the City is required to videotape the sweep and make reasonable efforts to document why it swept without prior notice.

How do I get sweep notices through Twitter or Facebook? The ACLU of Hawai‘i posts the daily sweep schedules on its Twitter account, and Facebook account. To get notices as text messages, send a text to 40404 with this phrase: follow acluhawaii. You should receive texts of the ACLU’s #ACLUSweepTweet notices. If you want to stop receiving #ACLUSweepTweet texts, send a text to 40404 and write “unfollow acluhawaii.”

2. I lost my property in a sweep. How do I get it back?

Q.I lost my property in a sweep. How do I get it back?
A.

The City must store your property for at least 45 days.

If you are homeless and cannot pay the storage fee, the City must waive the fee. Call the Department of Facility Maintenance office at (808) 768-3343 to schedule an appointment to pick up your property. Go to the Hālawa Storage Yard at 99-1077 Iwaena Street at your appointment time to pick up your things.

When you make your appointment, the City will ask for your “SNO/SPO tag number.” If you do not know your tag number, describe (or give a best guess of) the date, time and location of the sweep and describe what was taken.

You can take all of your property at once or you can leave some of it and come back later for the rest.

If you are homeless and cannot pay the storage fee, the City must waive the fee. If you are homeless and cannot afford to pay, you do not have to pay anything. You will sign a paper swearing that (1) you’re homeless, and (2) you can’t afford to pay the fee. If you sign this paper, you can take your property that same day and time, even if the City later argues that you should have to pay. Otherwise, you may be charged up to $200 to take your property.

What can I do if the City has damaged my property? What can I do if the City took my property but lost it? If you think the City damaged your property during a sweep, or if you think the City took your property in a sweep and then lost it, you can “make a claim” against the City and ask them to pay you back. You will need to fill out the City’s “Claim Form” describing what happened, where, and when. It may take up to 6 months for the City to respond. If you want to make a claim, you must submit the Claim Form within 2 years from the date your things were lost or damaged. You can find the Claim Form and instructions at the bottom of this page under Documents.

I lost my identification documents, and I want to replace them. Where do I start? For either a State ID or a Driver’s License, go to any Driver’s License office. The closest one to downtown Honolulu is 1199 Dillingham Blvd., phone: 532-7730. Complete the application (one form for a State ID, another form for a driver’s license). Click here for the State ID form. Click here for a Driver's License form.

For either a State ID or a driver’s license, you’ll need to pay $6. You may pay by cash, check made payable to “City and County of Honolulu,” or by Visa, MasterCard, or Discover debit or credit card.

I need identification and have never had one before. Where do I start? For either a State ID or a driver’s license, visit a Driver License Location. The closest to downtown Honolulu is located at 1199 Dillingham Blvd., phone: 532-7730. Complete the application. For either a State ID or a driver’s license, you’ll need to pay $40. You may pay by cash, check made payable to “City and County of Honolulu,” or by Visa, MasterCard, or Discover debit or credit card. 

Present the following documents:

  • Two documents showing that you live in Hawai‘i (electric bills or other utility statements; cell phone bills; vehicle registration/title; current checking or savings account statement; payroll stub within the past two months; current rent agreement)
  • Proof of Legal Name (birth certificate, U.S. passport, valid non-expired foreign passport with appropriate visa, marriage certificate);
  • Proof of Date of Birth (birth certificate, U.S. passport, valid non-expired foreign passport with appropriate visa, driver’s license)
  • Proof that you are legally present in the U.S. (birth certificate, U.S. passport, valid I-94, certificate of naturalization, green card, employment authorization document, or other proof of valid legal presence).

Even if you cannot prove legal presence, you CAN get a driver’s license under Hawai‘i law – more details below.

All documents must be originals or certified copies. Regular copies are not accepted. 

If you do not have legal immigration status or proof of a social security number, you can get a “Limited Purpose Driver’s License”: Visit a Driver License Location. The closest to downtown Honolulu is located at 1199 Dillingham Blvd., phone: 532-7730. Complete the application for a “Limited Purpose Driver’s License.”

Pay the fee (generally $40, with some exceptions). You may pay by cash, check made payable to “City and County of Honolulu,” or by Visa, MasterCard, or Discover debit or credit card.

Present the following documents:

  • Two documents showing that you live in Hawai‘i (electric bills or other utility statements; cell phone bills; vehicle registration/title; current checking or savings account statement; payroll stub within the past 2 months; current rent agreement);
  • Proof of Legal Name (birth certificate, U.S. passport, valid non-expired foreign passport with appropriate visa, marriage certificate)
  • Proof of Date of Birth (birth certificate, U.S. passport, valid non-expired foreign passport with appropriate visa, driver’s license)

Special notes about Limited Purpose Driver’s Licenses:

You can use a marriage license, divorce certificate, foreign student identification card, and/or foreign driver’s license to prove name and date of birth, but you must get them translated if they are not in English.

All documents must be originals or certified copies. Regular copies are not allowed.

You do not need to provide proof that you have immigration status, a visa, or a social security number.

If you have never been issued a driver’s license in Hawai‘i or any other state, you will need to take the written test ($2.00), apply for a “Limited Purpose Instruction Permit” ($5.00), and then apply for the Limited Purpose Driver’s License. See Hawaii Department of Transportation website.

If you’ve lost all your documents, and you don’t know where to start: You may be able to get photocopies of your documents at the Public Benefits Office. If you have ever received public benefits (like SNAP/food stamps, TANF/cash assistance), the Hawai‘i State Department of Human Services (“DHS”) likely has copies of your important identification documents (passport, birth certificate, social security cards, Hawai‘i state ID), as well as your family’s documents. You can make copies of whatever information that DHS has in its file for you and your family.

To get copies: Call 692-7770 (DHS Central Records) to determine where your records are located. If you live in urban Honolulu, your records are likely at the Pohulani Processing Center, 677 Queen St., Suite 400B, phone: 587-5283. Go to the office that has your records and ask to see your benefits records. Explain that you want to make copies of your documents that DHS has on file. You might need to wait between 1 and 3 hours. Some offices may charge you to make copies or limit the amount of copies you receive for free.

How to replace a passport for the citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia: Go to the Consulate of the Federated States of Micronesia, located at 30490 Ualena, Ste. 412, Honolulu, HI 96819, P# (808) 836-4775. Bring a $75.00 money order and 2 passport-sized color photos. It will take about 1 month for your new passport to arrive.

Are the City’s sweep forms only in English? No. By June 30, 2016, the City is required to provide all sweep notices and forms in Chuukese, Marshallese, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog, and Tongan.

Can I see videos of the City throwing away my things during a sweep? Yes. Whenever the City throws away your property, it is required to video and explain why. If your property was thrown away in a City sweep, you can watch a copy of the video(s). To view the video(s), call the Department of Facility Maintenance at 768-3343. Describe the date, time, and location of the sweep. You can get a copy of the video through: email, on a CD, or by going to the Department of Facility Maintenance’s Kapolei office (see address above) and viewing it there. You’re entitled to receive the video within 5 business days. You do not have to pay for the video.

3. Where can I go for shelter or other services?

Q.Where can I go for shelter or other services?
A.

In these areas of O‘ahu, you cannot sit, lie, or sleep on the sidewalk:

  • A‘ala, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Aina Haina-Niu Valley, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Ala Moana-Sheridan, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Chinatown, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • College Walk Mall, all hours
  • Downtown, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Fort Street Mall, 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Hawai‘i Kai, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Kailua, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Kaimukī, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Kahala, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Kapahulu, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Kapālama, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Kaneohe, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Kekaulike Mall, 5:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Kila Kalikīmaka Mall, all hours
  • McCully-Mō‘ili‘ili, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Sun Yat Sen Mall, Monday –Friday from 5:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Union Mall, all hours
  • Wahiawa, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Waikiki, all hours (Special District)
  • Waimanalo, 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM

However, you can sit, lie, or sleep in these areas at any time if you are:

  • Sitting, lying, or sleeping because of a medical emergency, or using a wheelchair for your disability.
  • Sitting, lying, or sleeping in order to protest or participate in any other “expressive activity.”
  • Attending a parade, event, or rally approved and permitted by the City.
  • Sitting on a City-owned chair or bench on a public sidewalk.

Public parks: You cannot set up a tent or have a shopping cart in a public park. A “tent” includes anything made of sheets, tarps, or blankets hung over a pole or rope, but only if it has more than one wall. If you break these rules, you can be fined up to $500.00, imprisoned for up to 30 days, or both. For more information, see ROH § 10-1.2, 10-1.6(d).

If you store your property (including a tent, shopping cart, stroller, or suitcase) in a public park, the City may take and store it (see below). The City can take your things from a public park if:
(1) they are left in a public park after closing hours, or
(2) they are left in a public park for over one day.

Public sidewalks: If you store your property on public sidewalks, the City has the right to immediately take it and store it (see above).

However, the City cannot take your property if:
(1) Your property is smaller than 42” long, 25” wide, and 43” high. The property can’t be in the street. You must leave at least 36” of the sidewalk open. Your property cannot prevent people from traveling on the sidewalk.
(2) Your property is a table, stand, or other piece of furniture displaying books, flyers, posters, or other “expressive material.” Someone must be at the table or stand at all times, and it cannot be in the street. Each person’s table or stand cannot be bigger than 5’x2’ or 10 sq. feet. It cannot prevent people from walking on the sidewalk.

Learn more here.

Are these rules different on City, State, and Federal property? Yes. The Stored Property Ordinance (“SPO”) and Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance (“SNO”) only apply to City property. Keep in mind that there are different rules that apply to different types of property, such as City-owned property, State-owned property (such as Sand Island Park), Hawai‘i Community Development Authority-owned property (such as the Kaka‘ako Community Development District), and Federal property (such as Fort DeRussy beach and park). As a general rule, it is illegal to camp on any of these properties without a permit.
 

4. Can I have some more resources and information?

Q.Can I have some more resources and information?
A.

Hawai‘i State Public Library System, offers free Internet computers, some computer training, and wi-fi

  • Get FREE Internet access and wi-fi at any State library with a library card ($5 one-time fee for Hawai‘i residents).

  • All branches in the Hawai‘i State Public Library System (HSPLS) provide free Internet computer access for library users with valid library cards. You may reserve time on an Internet computer or use them on a walk-in basis. Computer time can be reserved in the library at any Public Access Catalog (PAC) computer or through the Internet by accessing the HSPLS website. You need a valid HSPLS library card and PIN to reserve and log on to the computer.

  • Non-residents: If you are a non-resident, you will still need a valid HSPLS library card to make a reservation or use an Internet computer. A 3 month non-resident library card is available for $10.00 and a 5 year non-resident library card is available for $25.00.

Helping Hands Hawaii, assists with SNAP/food stamps enrollment and questions

  • Phone: (808) 440-3832.
  • Can help answer basic questions, assess eligibility, do pre-screening for eligibility, and help fill out the application for SNAP/food stamps, which also includes an application for TANF/cash assistance.

Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i, provides free legal services to low-income individuals for housing, family law, and public benefits cases

Parents: If your family is homeless, your children’s public school has resources to help you:

  • You can enroll your children without having to wait for paperwork (like school transcripts);
  • You may be able to get free City bus passes;
  • If you move, you can transfer your children to the new school that’s closest to you; or, if you prefer, you can keep your children in their existing school (so they don’t have to transfer), even if you move out of the district.
  • Important note: you may be eligible for these services even if you have a place to sleep at night. Even if you stay with friends and family, or in a shelter or motel, you should contact your local school and ask about the "McKinney-Vento Act".
  • The school’s office workers should know about your rights, but if you have any problems, you can call the DOE’s Homeless Concerns Office: (808)305-9869. Visit the website here.

Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness

  • Phone: (808) 586-0193

City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Community Services

  • 715 South King Street, Room 311, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813
  • Phone: (808) 768-7762

The Mayor’s Office of Housing

  • 715 South King Street, Room 311

Shelters & Support Institute for Human Services Shelter

  • 24-hour emergency shelter with support services for men, women, and families with children on O‘ahu.
  • Programs include:
    • Meal programs at all shelters
    • Supportive Housing programs including emergency shelter, Shelter Plus Care, Housing First.
    • Other housing programs include (see website for details):
      • Homeless Prevention
      • Rapid Re-Housing
      • Housing Placement Programs for Needy Families (TANF)
      • Clean & Sober Transition
      • Mainstream Housing Options include:
      • Public Housing
      • Senior Housing
      • Mental Health Group Homes
      • Clean & Sober Housing
      • Rent to Work
      • Section 8
      • Adult Residential Care Homes
      • Market Rental Units
      • Adult Foster Care Homes
      • Airline Relocation
      • HUD-VASH
      • Supportive Services for Veteran Families
    • Pre-and-post vocational employment programs
    • On site clinics (medical and psychiatric)
    • Case management services
    • Childrenʻs services
  • Phone: (808) 447-2800
  • 546 Ka‘aahi St, Honolulu, HI 96817, Visit the website here.
    • No pets. (pets are allowed at Hale Mauliola)
    • Has bathrooms and showers for residents.
    • No kitchen available for residents’ use, and residents are not allowed to bring their own food or snacks into the shelter.
    • There are lockers of various sizes that residents can use, but generally, you must supply your own lock.
  • Admissions:
    • No identification required for admissions
    • Longterm residents asked to provide TB clearance w/in 3 days
    • No drug testing required for admission
    • Allowed to bring at least 1 large suitcase, extra storage possibly available

• IHS also runs the Sand Island Shelter (“Hale Mauliola”). Visit the website here. Admissions requirements and shelter amenities are the same, with the following exceptions: (1) to stay at Sand Island, you must be currently receiving some type of income (whether from a job or from a public benefit, like SSI, TANF, or other cash-assistance); (2) Sand Island offers a communal dining area that residents may use; has a shared refigerator, drinking water and BBQ grills for residentsʻ use and (3) there’s additional storage space in each shelter unit. Pet friendly. Contact IHS for more information.

• IHS runs additional shelters. Please visit their web page or inquire to (808) 447-2800.

Next Step Shelter

  • Emergency shelter. Hours: Mondays through Fridays 5:30pm to 8:30am; Saturdays and Sundays open all day. Shelter registration and Intake: Mondays through Thursdays 1pm to 4pm. Closed Fridays. All new and follow up applicants are encouraged to be at the Shelter by 1:00 p.m.
  • Phone: (808) 585-8800
  • 591 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96813 (Pier 1 off Forrest Avenue in the Kaka'ako area), Visit the website here.
    • No pets allowed except for service animals.
    • Has bathrooms and showers for residents.
    • Has no kitchen available for residents’ use, but residents are allowed to bring in a rice cooker and their own food and snacks.
    • The shelter has a locker-area with individual cubbies, and staff will store reasonable amounts of belongings and lock/unlock when needed.
  • Admissions:
    • No identification required for admissions
    • Background check required, at your own cost; shelter will also check the Sex Offender Registry and ask whether you have committed any violent crimes.
    • Current TB test is required, and the shelter will refer you to a location that does the test for free.
    • Homeless verification letter required.
    • Can bring suitcases and backpacks, but each person’s belongings must fit within 2 20-gallon plastic bins.

Lighthouse Outreach Center Shelter, Waipahu

  • Emergency shelter open daily from 5:30 pm to 7:30 am. Guests are provided with an evening meal and lockers for personal items. The shelter also provides social services to help with rental assistance, medical issues, and life skills such as budgeting.
  • Phone: (808) 680-0823. If no one answers during the day, leave a message.
  • Address: 94-230 Leokane St, Waipahu, HI 96797, Visit the website here.
    • No pets allowed except for service animals.
    • Has bathrooms, but no showers.
  • Admissions:
    • State ID required for admissions
    • Caseworker at the shelter conducts a background check
    • Current TB test is required, at residents’ cost
    • For more comprehensive list of shelters, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s list of homeless shelters in Hawai‘i (organized by county), available here.

Pohulani Processing Center, Hawai‘i Department of Human Services, O‘ahu Branch

  • 677 Queen Street , Honolulu HI 96817
  • Phone: (808) 587-5283

Section 8 Housing Office

  • 842 Bethel St., 1st Floor, Honolulu HI 96813
  • Phone: (808) 768-7096

Note that some shelters can accommodate families, but some can only accommodate individuals. Contact each shelter to find out what it has available. All shelters should be able to make accommodations for individuals who are pregnant and/or nursing; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (“LGBT”); and/or have disabilities. If you believe you have been discriminated against, please contact our office. If you were injured in a sweep or law enforcement encounter, seek medical attention and take photos. Here's how to contact a private attorney.