HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Crews are about to tackle the last city park that needs to be cleaned up along the Waianae Coast. The homeless living at Keaau Beach Park were packing up their belongings before Tuesday's 10 p.m. deadline to move out. The city started notifying the homeless about the closure two months ago.
Lauren Gonsalves has called Keaau Beach Park home for four years. She came here with her husband and son after a sudden rent hike they couldn't afford. Now they're on the move again.
"We're going down the coastline a little bit more. We're gonna make another camp down there for now, and then hopefully we'll come up with some rent money and then move into a place," said Gonsalves.
The city is closing the park for three weeks. Crews will arrive at 8 o'clock on Wednesday morning to clear out the rubbish. They'll also take care of repairs and maintenance.
"We're not expecting any resistance. We're just going to go there and start picking up the trash and debris and any tents that may be up," said Al Tufono, deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department.
Authorities estimate up to 200 homeless lived in the park. City officials said, as of Sunday, there were 236 vacancies in various homeless shelters on Oahu, like the Waianae Civic Center. But many of the homeless, like Gonsalves, would rather live in their tents.
"The rules and to me it's like kind of inhumane. It doesn't seem something that I would be able to handle," said Gonsalves.
"Our job is to go out and do outreach, find those individuals that are ready and willing to come into the program, and continue to engage with those that are not ready so that one day maybe when they are ready they'll at least know where to go," said Darryl Vincent, state director for Hawaii of U.S. VETS.
The city wants to clean up the park and return it to the community. Gonsalves said she understands, and hopes that someday she can find a permanent place of her own.
"They should come up with some kind of solution, maybe trailers or something that they can let people move into that are reasonable rent, affordable rent," Gonsalves said.
Once the park reopens, camping will be allowed with a permit. The park will be off-limits to other users overnight.