Kakaako park closed again for repairs — and homeless kicked out

(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Passion Totoa has been living either on the streets or shelters of Kakaako for the past five years.

She said she and her family were kicked out of Kakaako Gateway Park Friday morning because of an ukulele festival on Sunday.

They relocated to Mother Waldron Park about three blocks away.

"We moved three o'clock in the morning so less traffic and less people to see us," Totoa said.

But on Friday afternoon, the city called an emergency closure citing a water line break. The lawn off Cooke Street is now off-limits indefinitely as crews try to find the source of the leak.

"Originally, it was just the comfort station that was closed. But once we realized that it was actually impacting more the park, we closed the entire park," said Nathan Serota, Honolulu Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer.

Totoa and others relocated to the sidewalk across the street. But she thinks its private property and could be kicked off, a daily struggle she calls the "Kakaako shuffle."

"It's closed yeah the park? It's not closed. It's only closed off to us ... homeless people," said Totoa.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell calls the homeless sweeps "compassionate disruption," which is an effort to persuading people into shelter.  But Serota says the closure of Mother Waldron Park is not a sweep.

"We can't close the park because of homelessness. The public is entitled to use the park," Serota said.

Mother Waldron Park just re-opened a week ago after being closed for a month while the city completed maintenance work. The park has been plagued with various issues related to homeless campers after dozens of them relocated there after been kicked out of other areas.

Homeless service providers say many of the homeless in Kakaako are considered "chronically homeless" who have been repeatedly helped but end up back on the streets.

Totoa says she is not sure where she and her family will go next.

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