In Kakaako, the chronically homeless will now get a warning with that offer of help

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dogs were tied to sign posts while tents and other makeshift shelters lined the border of Mother Waldron Park on Wednesday.

Living inside are the same 70 or so people who have been bouncing around Kakaako for years — illegally camping in driveways, parks and sidewalks.

This organized group of squatters are good at outsmarting the system, experts say. They also have a reputation for refusing help.

In an attempt to get more takers, outreach workers are now teaming up with officers from a new unit called HELP Honolulu.

Going forward, offers of a bed at a shelter are followed by a warning.

"They will go out and gain the trust and work with these groups of homeless people and try to get them the help they need," said HPD Deputy Chief John McCarthy. "It's followed up by enforcement so they know that there are consequences to their actions."

Police and city officials say the most common complaints about the pop-up camps are blocked sidewalks, fights, dangerous animals and harassment of people passing by.

HPD confirms officers will be back to Mother Waldron this week to enforce park rules: Things like camping, shopping carts and staying after park hours.

"We try to gain compliance by first asking. We always try that. But if they don't do it there is a consequence. We enforce that by issuing citations and in some cases making an arrest," McCarthy said.

Meanwhile, the city says it will sweep the sidewalks in the area on a daily basis.

"Our end goal is to make sure public spaces and public places remain free for the use of the public," said Ross Sasamura, director of the city Department of Facilities Maintenance.

The city says it's also working with the state to make sure a new camp is not established on its land.

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