- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - A children’s museum in the heart of a Honolulu neighborhood that was home to one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments is struggling to stay afloat with a reported 30 percent drop in revenue over the past two years.

Chairwoman of the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center Loretta Yajima said the museum is losing visitors despite a decrease in the Kakaako homeless population. About 50 homeless people live in the area, compared with about 300 last year, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Yajima brought her concerns to the Hawaii Community Development Authority in an email last month. She said the museum has been dealing with trash, urine and feces left on the property as well as acts of vandalism.

“It took a lot before I had the courage to put things down in writing, and part of the reason I did is because it was my sincere desire to start this wonderful children’s museum for generations of children,” Yajima said.

Faced with declining revenue, Yajima said she suggested closing the center in January, but her board of directors shot down the proposal, according to the email to the HCDA.

The chairwoman attributed the museum’s drop in visitors to people being afraid to come to Kakaako.

The nonprofit organization doesn’t have the money to relocate, and Yajima said her staff takes the necessary measures to provide a clean, safe and welcoming environment for visitors.

“When we have camps and educational programs, the teachers go down to the sidewalks to register the children who come in. (They) open the car door for them and walk them into the center,” Yajima said.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority said in a statement that it takes the situation “very seriously” and is working with social service agencies and authorities to address the issues.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com


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