Kakaako homeless pack up and told to go

By Teri Okita – bio | email

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Deadline day for the homeless in Kakaako came and went - seemingly, without a hitch. Dozens living in a tent city had until today to leave the area, and most went without protests. Then, city and state workers moved in with back hoes and garbage trucks.

By mid-morning, most of the homeless around Ilalo street in Kakaako had packed up and moved on. The tent city? Gone. Only brown patches of grass – with the outline of tents - remain. But there was trash - and lots of it. State workers estimate they removed about eight TONS of debris.

Danny Ye was one of the last hold-outs. He's lived on these streets for 16 months, and although he was given several weeks' notice to leave just like everyone else, he didn't want to go.

We watched as Ye begged workers to let him stay. "Can you give me couple days?" Ye asks. State workers could only refer him to a list of social service providers. As he collected his belongings, the 52 year old grew angry and called the crews "cruel". "Very upset. Very upset. Being humiliated, abusive," Ye said with a thick Chinese accent and broken English. He says, with nowhere else to go, he'll likely move back to China.

Governor Neil Abercrombie's Coordinator on Homelessness, Marc Alexander, says this isn't about enforcing laws or pushing people out. Shelters and emergency services are available. The challenge is to help the homeless help themselves - and to hold them accountable, as well.

"People have a right to access their parks and their facilities in a way that is appropriate," says Alexander. "I think we have to say to people sometimes, 'Look, we have these services available to you. If you don't want to take advantage of these services, we cannot, though, let you take this resource away from the rest of the community'."

But many homeless prefer to be out on the streets, and outreach workers say they're under no illusion that the homeless will go right into shelters. In fact, we checked, and many up and moved just a few blocks away – to Keawe street in Kakaako.

Don "Action" Jackson likes the outdoors and has lived on Ilalo street for seven years. He made a mad dash to Keawe street – and just in time.

"When I got here, there was only one spot left!" Jackson said with a laugh. "So, I guess I'll just make due."

I spoke with some businesses in the area. They didn't want to go on camera, but most said, they hope the homeless get the social services needed. In the next breath, they said they're glad to see the homeless go. Over the last few months, there have been growing complaints of trash, feces, and fights in the area.

Alexander says shelters have prepared for new clients, and homeless advocates will continue their outreach. Still, the problem will be a long and complex one to fix.

Homeless people in Kakaako are being given a handout listing several shelters for them to go including:

Care-A-Van: 3020 Waialae Avenue. Offers medical care, alcohol and drug rehab, housing searches, HIV testing and treatment, and homeless verification. They can be reached at 922-4790.

Hale Kipa: 615 Piikoi Street, #203. Offers services to homeless youth. 955-4080.

Gregory House: 770 Kapiolani Boulevard, #503. Offers housing assistance to persons with HIV/AIDS. 592-9022.

Institute for Human Services: 564 Kaaahi Street. Offers food, clothing, medical care, and case management. 845-7052.

Housing Solutions: P.O. Box 11360. Offers transitional housing for homeless families and single persons. 973-0050.

Kalihi-Palama Health Care for the Homeless Project: 904 Kohou Street, #307. Offers food, clothing, medical care, and case management. 791-6342 for women and children; 531-6233 for men.

Safe Haven: 41 S. Beretania Street. Offers transitional housing for homeless persons with mental illnesses, emergency beds, food, a medical clinic, showers and laundry facilities. 524-7233.

The Evan's Bus Project: The corner of Ala Moana Boulevard and Forrest Avenue. Offers emergency shelter, one meal a night, showers, laundry. 288-1577.

Aloha United Way: 200 North Vineyard Boulevard, Ste 700. Offers general information, volunteer opportunities. Dial 211 anywhere in Hawaii.

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