State crews resume cleanup of homeless encampments

State crews resume cleanup of homeless encampments

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State highway crews have resumed cleanup efforts and the removal of homeless campers on state land Monday morning. 

Sheriffs accompanied crews with the Department of Transportation's Highway Maintenance Division to help keep the peace as trespassers were asked to leave the homeless encampments under the overpass of the H-1 Freeway near the Airport Viaduct Monday morning.

"It could take our crews a couple of days there," said Department of Transportation spokesman, Tim Sakahara, who indicated that the cleanup effort is a continuation of the August sweeps that only got started in once in Kapahulu then were put on hold due to bad weather and the need to re-coordinate DOT efforts with the governor's new homeless task force and homeless coordinator, Scott Morishige.
Dozens of bags of trash and debris were littered in and around the overpass area as a handful of homeless individuals, some with dogs, walked out of the area.
Sakahara said it's hard work for the cleanup crews who have to deal with needles, disease and other safety issues.

"It's difficult, tiring and strenuous work," he added, noting that sometimes a health official will be on site for supervision and advise the crews on health safety.
Prisoners working with the Hawaii Correctional Industries, will also be brought in to assist DOT crews at cleanup at various sites across Oahu over the next approximately two weeks.
State Public Safety Department spokeswoman, Toni Schwartz, said 54 males from the Waiawa Correctional Facility and 16 females from the Women's Community Correctional Center will assist them. Schwartz added they'll be working in teams of seven to 10 people.
Sakahara said DOT crews remove trash and trespassers from state land twice a year in February and August at the cost of about $250,000 to $300,000 for each of the cleanup efforts that last from one to two weeks.
When asked if crews will return once again to the homeless encampment they recently visited under an overpass in Kapahulu along Harding Avenue across from Market City, he said, "Yes."

Sakahara did not specify that date though.
He said that state crews will visit areas that they have been made aware of known encampments along state property including those in Wahiawa near the Karsten Thot Bridge.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.