After huge sweep of encampments under Nimitz viaduct, some squatters return

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Less than two months after the state completed a $500,000 clean-up under the Nimitz viaduct, squatters are moving back in.

A camp has been steadily growing over the past several weeks.

On Thursday, Hawaii News Now asked both the city and the state if they were aware of the camp.

HNN didn't initially get a response, but within a couple hours a state clean-up crew arrived, along with an outreach worker and the governor's homeless coordinator.

On Thursday morning, a group of about 20 people were once again living under the bridges.

For the most part, tents were out of sight. The only way most people would have seen them is driving from the H-1 Freeway onto Dillingham Boulevard.

The emerging encampment was in one of the exact spots the state recently spent a month cleaning up.

Before the area was cleared again, HNN spotted trash on the ground and a recently abandoned van.

"What keeps me here is my dogs," said Jules, one of the area's inhabitants.

Jules declined to offer her last name, but said she and her boyfriend have been living under the viaduct for four years.

After getting moved out, the couple relocated to an area under the bridge that was never fenced off.

"Yes, there are things that go on down here that is illegal but not all of us are into that," she said.

"A lot of us are trying to be good. We're taxpayers. I actually work. I have two jobs."

Scott Morishige, the governor's homeless coordinator, said the governor considers regular maintenance from Kakaako to the airport a priority.

"The city has a permit for  the property right now, but regardless of the jurisdiction the state and the city are working together to make sure this area remains clear," he said.

As workers broke down the campsites Thursday, Jules packed up, admitting the idea of shelter is becoming more appealing.

"I'm taking it into consideration a lot more these days than I was before," she said.

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