16 July 2017
If you live in Honolulu you have seen the homeless on the beaches, in the parks, beside the road, in the woods, you name it, they are around. A lot of media attention has been given to the homeless problem in Hawaii, mainly on Oahu. If you are visiting Hawaii then it has probably stood out as you drive from the Airport to the hotels.
You may hear him on a QRP radio or if you are on Oahu you may hear him on the 2m nets or talking late into the evening. Alex, KH7CX, in some ways, may be unconventional. You see, Alex is homeless, sleeps on a bench, gets his mail and showers at a church, and uses a storage facility for his personal items. In his spare time his main passion is QRP-SSB DXing.
I’ve know Alex for maybe 7 or 8 years. I heard he was homeless before but he does not strike me as a homeless person. I know that is a stereotype for homeless people but looking at him you would not know he was homeless and we had never talked about it before and he is always happy, smiling, and ready to help. We recently had time to talk at a event that he helped out with.
So why is Alex homeless in Hawaii and still working his radio to make contacts? Living in Hawaii is expensive and the biggest expense is housing. Hawaii has an estimated 7,900 homeless, which is up 4%. That’s according to data from a released federal report, which says Hawaii ranked third in states with the highest rate of unsheltered homeless people. California, Oregon, Nevada, and Mississippi round out the top five. These are the latest statistics I could find and they represent the 2015/2016 count.
Of the 7,900 homeless living in Hawaii, more than half are living in places like the streets, vehicles, and parks. (Did you know it is illegal to live in a vehicle in Hawaii? There is a state law banning anyone from sleeping or living in their cars overnight. Habitating in a vehicle between six p-m and six a-m is a violation of the law on city and county streets,”)
Alex does handyman jobs, mainly on boats, and some of the boat owners trade his work for a bed on the boat and money or either money or a bed.
Does he feel safe? Surprisingly he does. He knows the others around him and stays out of trouble. He is concerned about the drug use that goes on around him and in the open but tries to stay clear of those areas.
He doesn’t have a cell phone and uses the public library computers to update his QRZ log and to look at the solar weather data. Alex recently educated me on the sun spot reports on QRZ. He looks at the K index and the Signal Noise Level Readings. He wants the K index as low as possible and the noise level low. He doesn’t care about the A index. It seems to work for him, he has worked all the continents. He even finds time to keep his QRZ’d logbook up to date.
As Alex says on his QRZ’d Page, “I operate exclusively open-air portable-QRP from a local Beach-Park using a Yaesu FT-817ND – Powered by an external 9 A/h 12.8 V Litium Battery Running 5 watts into my selfmade resonant monobander “New Carolina Windom” antennas for 20m , 40m or 10m – ( performing just great without any tuner ! ): “.
The antenna is set-up in a flat -” Inverted V ” configuration with the apex at about 7m to 15m (22 to 49 feet) above the ground/sea level. Mainly beaming South and North, hung up between 3 coconut palm-trees.
He has managed to work all 7 continents with his setup ( in SSB ) ….with zero, or just a few, sunspots most of the time.
Alex says that he wants real QSL’s only and he doesn’t use a bureau. He says we are losing that feel of a card in our hand and have something to hold, feel, and look back on to remember the contact. He is homeless but still takes the time to send a QSL card, maybe a lesson for us all.
ARRL Public Information Officer – Honolulu