Leaders of Waianae homeless village to lawmakers: Let us stay

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Leaders of a longstanding homeless encampment near the Waianae Boat Harbor used the State Capitol as a backdrop to deliver a message to lawmakers.

"We want to be seen as people not problems. We don't want to be swept with only a few days notice," said Twinkle Borge of Puuhonua o Waianae.

She fears the state's planning to order the 200 people living in the camp off the property.

"As of right now nothing is scheduled to displace the people from that particular location," state homeless coordinator Scott Morishige said.

The state wants the site cleared eventually but Morishige hopes its through relocating residents.

"We're committed to making every effort to continue outreach services to the individuals in the encampment and we will continue to try to connect them to shelter and other available housing resources," he said.

Borge is also troubled over the shelving of a House bill that village residents viewed as a protection against a sweep.

Rep. John Mizuno, chairman of the House Health and Human Services committee, said the measure is on hold because of ongoing talks with the governor's office on how best to transition the people in the village to temporary housing and shelters.

"Our goal is to get everyone into this permanent housing situation, especially for our keiki's sake and the health and safety of our residents," Rep. Cedric Gates said.

Borge also responded to allegations that people from the village are dumping human waste into Pokai Bay.

"Nobody is walking down Farrington HIghway with the buckets and waste and pouring them into the bay," she said. "We make use of the public restrooms at the harbor. One of the residents turns her recycles in to buy toilet paper to put in the public restroom at the boat harbor.".

She hopes for face-to-face meetings with the state leaders.

"It's coming to the table. It's giving us a piece of land so we can do what we need to do."

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said it hasn't been able to find suitable alternative sites for the village and it has told the campers they will eventually have to vacate the premises..

The state hopes some amp residents who qualify move into a city housing project being built nearby.

"People in the encampment are also responsible for taking the steps necessary to improve their lives. Moving into more permanent housing is a first step," DLNR communications specialist Deborah Ward said.

DLNR plans to create a Marine Educational Science Center on the property now occupied by the homeless village.

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