Homeless night on the beach Part 1 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Homeless night on the beach Part 1

Mary Jane Ponce Mary Jane Ponce
Ulu Luna Ulu Luna
Harold Kujima Harold Kujima
Max Max

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

NORTH SHORE (KHNL) - Each year, nearly 15,000 of Hawaii's people are homeless at some point.

With our country's economy in sad shape, many of our families are hurting. The scary part is many could be just a paycheck or a month away from disaster.

They are people and families who seem easy to forget or pass by on the street. But you won't look at them the same way after you spend the night with them. These are people that can be family, friends, neighbors, it doesn't matter.

It's said that you can't truly understand someone until you walk in their shoes, and for one day that's exactly what I tried to do.

Oahu's north shore is a place where worries wash away.

But for Mary Jane and her fiance Frank, Haleiwa is heartbreak. Like more than one third of native Hawaiians, they've been homeless for almost four years

"Even though we applied for housing, the wait is long and then we're still here," said Mary Jane.

During the day, this beach is their home. At night when the area closes, they make their daily commute to the boat harbor.

"It's my beautiful bus," Mary Jane said.

This old school bus they bought for $500 is their only shelter. Call it their own version of a mobile home. Dogs are their security system.

"They will let us know whenever any ones around near our vehicle or near anything."

Ulu and Mike are always nearby.

Like Mary-Jane and Frank, they too were forced to relocate to Haleiwa from Mokuleia Beach Park. City and County officials have been strictly enforcing the "no overnighters" rules.

"We can start over, start fresh, that's all we're looking for," said Mary Jane.

They have a dinnertime routine. Mike usually cooks, tonight it's chicken curry. And surprisingly, even though they have so little, they have enough to share with others.

"I make $637 a month and $147 dollars in food stamps and we feed up to 8-to-12 people and it's bad," said Ulu Luna. "It feels good inside, it feels good inside to give."

When dinner's ready, people seem to show up out of no where and they immediately notice me and my handheld camera, and share their stories of life on the streets.

"Hey Mr. Newsman, my name is Harold Kujima. This is my friend Harry."

"Did you guys come here to eat? To hang out and stuff?" I asked.

"Oh no, I live up there underneath that tree," said Harold.

"Underneath the tree? How old are you?" I asked.

"18," he said.

This is Max, jobless after working 32 years in hospitals. He's lost his home and now sleeps in his van.

"It's a $1000 just to rent a studio, it's very difficult, and then the price of food's gone up, the price of rent's gone up, the price of gas has gone up," said Max.

"Get your food tonight you guys, be part of our family," said Mary Jane.

From the hood of a car, I fix my plate.

No one knows the words. He just makes them up as he goes along.

We play with the dogs and just before midnight, it's time to sleep. No sleeping bag. No cozy comforter. Not knowing what the night has in store.

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