Some Kakaako homeless move to Waipahu shelter

Some Kakaako homeless move to Waipahu shelter
William Hummel
William Hummel

WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Time is running out for homeless people living in Kakaako to find a new place to sleep. 13 of them arrived on city bus at a Waipahu shelter on Thursday, ahead of next week's sidewalk cleanup.

"They got ahead of the curve and came out and hopefully, their experience here will convince them that this is the way to go," said William Hummel of the Lighthouse Emergency Shelter.

"We saw them come in, get processed, and there was lots of room in the sanctuary for them to find space," said Walter Chang, who moved into the shelter three weeks ago.

Only 7 of the Kakaako homeless returned to the facility by the 7 p.m. deadline on the second night. Staff members allowed five individuals to enter the shelter late. In the end, 12 of the 13 people relocated in the first group went back to the shelter on Friday night.

"Some folks come and they don't like the rules. Some folks come and are happy to get what we offer," Hummel said.

Under a contract with the state, the shelter receives $13 per person per night to provide dinner and a place to sleep for 85 people, according to Hummel. At one point, up to 160 people stayed there, but the population dropped significantly about a year ago. Before the latest group arrived on Thursday, only 27 clients were staying at the facility.

"I think the incentives aren't there, the housing incentives aren't there, the end of the pipeline isn't there," said Hummel. "Most of my clients can't afford affordable housing which doesn't exist, so we've got a real problem."

The city will begin clearing the homeless people living on sidewalks along the outer edges of the Kakaako encampment near Cooke Street and Ohe Street on September 8. Crews will later expand into other areas. The state has already asked the leaders of the Lighthouse Emergency Shelter if they're willing to put in showers, sleeping partitions, and other upgrades.

"We're trying to be helpful. We're trying to become part of the plan that addresses this issue. Long-term, they've also asked us if we're capable of providing service 24 hours," said Hummel.

56 homeless campers have now transitioned from Kakaako to various homeless shelters in the last month, according to the state.

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