EXCLUSIVE: As students head back to class, UH cracks down on homeless

EXCLUSIVE: As students head back to class, UH cracks down on homeless

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii is cracking down on homeless campers who live on a ridge just above the UH Manoa campus, steps away from faculty housing and across the street from UH dorms.

No one knows exactly how many homeless people are living on Wa'ahila Ridge just off Dole Street.

One homeless man was clearly visible on the hillside early Friday evening. Nearby residents said they can hear him yelling loudly in the middle of the night from time to time and can see him throwing his garbage down the hillside.

Hikers and people who live at the Wa'ahila Faculty Apartments said there are at least a dozen homeless camp sites in the area.

"And I see, like the sketchiest homeless people," said UH student Aaron Bullock who hikes the area several times a week. "They're drug addicts, alcohol bottles, trash everywhere. Pretty disgusting."

Bullock said he understands how some of the homeless who live in this thick brush can make people uncomfortable.

"I'm personally not scared, but I can see how some of the females would be scared," Bullock said.

One reason why homeless like this location: the amazing view of Diamond Head into Waikiki and beyond.

UH Campus Security Chief Charles Noffsinger sent an email to faculty housing residents Thursday that said: "Many of our faculty residents have expressed concerns about the recent homeless activity in the Wa'ahila Ridge area."

"The UHM (Manoa) Department of Public Safety takes this issue very seriously, and has begun the process of removing trash and debris, and relocating homeless encampments," Noffsinger said.

A campus security spokeswoman said UH posted notices at homeless campsites Wednesday telling them they had 24 hours to clear out and began hauling out trash and other items Friday.

UH graduate student David Wilkie said he sees the homeless occasionally but they never bother him.

"They're just going to end up in somebody else's backyard and it seems to be that UH wants it to be anywhere but here. But I guess can understand the motivation for UH to want to clean up their property," Wilkie said.

The homeless crackdown comes as UH undergraduates moved into dorms this week before the university begins classes on Monday.

A UH security spokeswoman said no one incident sparked the crackdown but she said the homeless are living on UH property which creates a safety concern so the university is trying to remedy the situation with the help of law enforcement and social services organizations.