Homeless campsite soil to be tested, Mayor believes in plan - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Homeless campsite soil to be tested, Mayor believes in plan

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It seemed like a good idea. Creating a transitional homeless shelter for people who don't want to move to a traditional shelter but wouldn't mind camping, but then there were some setbacks.

This site on Sand Island was selected because it was farther away from residences.  It's also near ocean front property and across from the Sand Island boat launch, which has bathrooms and showers.  But it's also an industrial area and there are concerns over contamination in the soil.  The city will spend somewhere between $12,000 to $24,000 doing toxicity tests.

"If we find it is not safe obviously we're not going to allow anyone to go and camp on that site," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor.

There is also the cost. It could be about a million dollars to create the campsite for about 100 homeless who voluntarily stay there.  That's less than one half of one percent of all the homeless on the island.

"It's just an attempt to shuttle them away out of site. It's not a part of a compassionate plan to solve homelessness. It's part of a disruption plan," said Kathryn Xian, Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery Executive Director. "We feel it should not be used anyway regardless of the toxic concerns or not."

Even if this site doesn't work out the City is not giving up on the idea.

"If it's not a good place we will be looking for alternative sites," said Mayor Caldwell. "Where ever we find a site people are not going to be happy because everyone wants the homeless to go camp somewhere but not in their neighborhood where ever that may be. We need to make some tough decisions and find the right place for them."

This homeless camp would be only one step of the homeless plan. The city is still continuing with its housing first program to get people into permanent housing in the community. It was supposed to start November 1 but the contract with the Institute for Human Services is yet to be signed.

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