The same day Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city was ready to start moving homeless people out of Kaka'ako, Governor David Ige said officials should hit the brakes on relocation until they had a clearer plan.
Now, Honolulu City Managing Director Roy Amemiya is clarifying that officials were hoping to start moving the homeless out of Kaka'ako earlier this month, but the city is holding off because of worries from the newly formed Homeless Task Force Committee created by the Governor.
"I don't want to speak for the committee, but I think we're looking for consensus that this is the time that we need to start enforcement," Amemiya explained to the Honolulu City Council Tuesday morning. "The public safety concerns are being weighed against the community's desire to have a place for these people to go."
A survey of the homeless encampment in Kaka'ako completed earlier this month found there are 293 people living here and more than 40% of them are families. As the tent city has grown so has outcry about public safety and sanitation, but officials say there's no simple solution if they want to avoid merely displacing people into other communities.
The city's plan is to start with streets on the outskirts of the Kaka'ako encampment and slowly move into the more populated area around the Children's Discovery Center. Officials say their initial focus will be on individuals.
"We do know that there's bed space in shelters for individuals but that the families are kinda out of luck, they're all full," Amemiya said.
One location has been identified as a possible future shelter space for families -- an old HCDA maintenance shed just makai of the UH Medical School JABSOM that could house up to 40 people.
"It's in sort of disrepair, but it does have plumbing. It does have showers. It does have electricity," Amemiya described.
Officials say relocations will not be treated as sweeps and everyone will be given at least seven days notice to start packing up.
The Honolulu Police Department confirmed Tuesday that they will not send in uniformed officers, but rather police in aloha shirts will be on-site to assist in hopes that will keep tensions from escalating.
"We're hoping that we can start enforcement sooner rather than later, because we don't want this to get out of hand. We do have agreements with OHA, HCDA and Kamehameha Schools -- something we didn't have a month ago -- so when we do enforce it will be much more effective," Amemiya said.
Hawaii News Now reached out to the Governor's office for clarification on the state's desire to hold-off on enforcement in the Kaka'ako area and a spokesperson said Ige has consistently maintained there needs to be shelter for the homeless to move to before any enforcement can be effective and right now, the administration's top priority is to find temporary shelter space.