"Houseless" community thrives near Waianae Boat Harbor

"Houseless" community thrives near Waianae Boat Harbor

WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow)

A community tucked into the brush near the Waianae Boat Harbor has 107 dwellings and 278 people. Residents refer to the themselves as houseless not homeless. Their encampment is spread out over 19 acres. Tents and tarps line dirt paths like cottages line streets in neighborhoods.

"I love this village. It's very good. Comfortable," said Pearl Hassenritter who lived there for nine years.

Singles and families. Infants and senior citizens. They live side-by-side. Newcomers are interviewed before they're allowed in, and everyone is expected to follow the rules. Break them and you're gone.

"Number one rule is no stealing. Number two rule is as long as you have kids they become our first responsibility," Twinkle Borge said.

Borge is the community's leader. The village has its own security team. Solar lights light up dark areas. The main entrance is chained off after hours. Borge said many of the adults have jobs but can't afford a house or apartment.

"I believe most of them do have enough for the rent but not the utilities," she said.

There are 48 children and teenagers in the camp. School attendance is mandatory.

"Education is number one in here for the children. We don't want them to live this lifestyle. We don't want them to think it's okay to live this lifestyle," resident Kaulana Paishon said.

Leaders are appointed to watch over sections. There are regular meetings and memos.

"Even what's going on for the whole month I give them a calendar, so they know what we're on top of," Borge said.

 Community groups and church's donate clothes, food and supplies. Borge is working on a plan to bring in portable toilets.  Residents share as if the entire camp is one family.

"It's all about respect here," Paishon said.

"I just had two families move in," Borge said.

The state knows the boat harbor people are back there. The community members view themselves as caretakers of the area. So far they've been allowed to stay. 

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