Wa­ianae en­camp­ment seeks help from state

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By Nanea Kalani nkalani@starad­ver­tiser.com

Res­i­dents of a large home­less en­camp­ment near the Wa­ianae Small Boat Har­bor say they are not to blame for many of the con­cerns be­ing cited as rea­sons to ex­plore shut­ting down the vil­lage on sta­te­owned prop­erty.

With more than 200 res­i­dents, the en­camp­ment known as Pu‘uhonua o Wa­ianae sits on 20 acres of state land be­tween Wa­ianae High School and the boat har­bor.

Of­fi­cials with the state Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources, which owns the par­cel and the boat har­bor, have said the agency needs to ad­dress se­ri­ous con­cerns about hy­giene, refuse, soar­ing wa­ter use at the har­bor, and the de­struc­tion of nat­u­ral and cul­tural re­sources. Area law­mak­ers say there’s

talk about a depart­ment pro­posal that could sur­face next month to be­gin clos­ing the camp, but the gov­er­nor’s co­or­di­na­tor on home­less­ness says there is no planned sweep at this time.

“We will be blamed for crimes, van­dal­ism and trash dump­ing in the area,” vil­lage leader Twin­kle Borge told re­porters.

She said the en­camp­ment is be­ing un­fairly tar­geted. “The vil­lage is a safe and sta­ble place to live,” she said. “It’s only so easy for you come, sit down with us, come talk. Let’s come up with one so­lu­tion.”

Borge was joined by roughly two dozen Pu‘uhonua res­i­dents and sup­port­ers at the Capi­tol on Wed­nes­day to hand-de­liver tes­ti­mony on a bill that would have pro­tected res­i­dents from be­ing swept from the site.

The bill was shelved a day prior, but Borge says she’s “hope­ful that this might cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity to talk to the state about so­lu­tions.”

She said over the years the en­camp­ment has of­fered to lease the land; asked for help to find a new lo­ca­tion; and of­fered to pay for wa­ter use, dump­sters and portable toi­lets. In re­sponse to con­cerns about opae ula shrimp liv­ing in an un­der­ground cave sys­tem un­der the site, the camp asked if a state bi­ol­o­gist could teach res­i­dents how to care for the holes.

“In each case, the state stopped us,” Borge said. “They have the abil­ity and the power to help us. We can find a new place, tran­si­tion there, bring in the agen­cies. I be­lieve that we can be the so­lu­tion.”

Scott Mor­ishige, the gov­er­nor’s co­or­di­na­tor on home­less­ness, said in gen­eral the state works to en­sure there is space avail­able

The vil­lage is a safe and sta­ble place to live. … Sit down with us, come talk. Let’s come up with one so­lu­tion.”

Twin­kle Borge Leader, Pu‘uhonua o Wa­ianae

in shel­ters or hous­ing pro­grams be­fore tak­ing any en­force­ment ac­tion.

Borge said most Pu‘uhonua res­i­dents have gone through shel­ters or tem­po­rary hous­ing but ended up back on the streets. “Many no longer have faith that shel­ters can help, so we’ve pulled to­gether to sup­port each other,” she said.

State Rep. Cedric Gates (D, Wa­ianae-Makaha-Makua) said he wants to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion if the site is ul­ti­mately cleared.

“Be­fore any­thing hap­pens, we re­ally have to come up with a com­pre­hen­sive plan of how to tran­si­tion these fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als,” Gates said. “Un­til that is in place, if we were to con­duct a sweep, we would be putting at risk our whole com­mu­nity, be­cause where would these in­di­vid­u­als go? … At the end of the day, what we want to see for every­one is for them to get a sta­ble job, to be able to get into a sta­ble hous­ing sit­u­a­tion and be able to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity.”

STAR-AD­VER­TISER / 2016

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