WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's hard to find any community on Oahu that isn't facing a homeless crisis. Although the greatest concentration of homeless remains in the city, the population is also booming at other parts of the island including Wahiawa.
There isn't an official headcount telling us how many homeless live in Wahiawa, but everyone, including the homeless, will tell you their numbers are on the rise. That increase is putting pressure on the people on the street and those who are trying to help them.
Wahiawa's New Life Body of Christ foodbank has never been busier. More and more homeless, like Ray Ray Boyer, are turning to the church for help.
"Just yesterday I went through Wahiawa," said Boyer. "There's a lot of homeless people everywhere."
There are so many homeless in Wahiawa Boyer left the streets for the shores of Lake Wilson. His new camp is accessible only by boat. Boyer lives there alone with a pack of 8 dogs for protection. Although he's managed to get "off the grid," Boyer still can't avoid the homeless masses.
"Last night I went out to do a little dumpster diving for my dogs," explained Boyer. "I was surprised how much homeless people there are. Like every bus stop almost has somebody sleeping there."
At street level Wahiawa's homeless are everywhere. But it's not until you look from above that you can fully appreciate the homeless footprint in the community. Google Earth images actually allow you to see the homeless camps around Lake Wilson and in old agriculture lands outside of town. You can even see the sprawling network of trails connecting the encampments
Along one of those paths lives George Fung. The homeless here know him as "Priest."
"The reason I'm here is because the Lord Jesus has put it in my heart to be an evangelist and come out and help others." explained Fung
"Priest" moved out of his Kaneohe home four years ago to minister to the homeless. He has lived along Lake Wilson for the past year. He's the unofficial leader of his unofficial community.
"It is very rough," said Fung.
Rough, says Fung, because of some of the lawless who call the bush home and the public who don't want them there. Fung says the problem is Wahiawa's homeless have nowhere to go.
"There's no shelter here in Wahiawa," said Fung. "And people who live here and do business here don't want to go to downtown."
Similar to Honolulu, there are a lot of different property owners impacted by homeless encampments in Wahiawa. Dole, OHA, the county and state have all tried to manage the problems on their property, but like Honolulu all that happens is the homeless move from one site to another. And there does not appear to be any imminent solution.