After sweep, city takes steps to keep homeless out of Ewa Beach park

Homeless say kicking them out is not the solution – they need treatment
Homeless say kicking them out is not the solution – they need treatment(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Feb. 8, 2019 at 8:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Homeless at Oneula Beack Park, also known as "Hau Bush,” say they were warned on Friday to get their vehicles out because the area will now be blocked off by boulders.

The announcement comes the day after a sweep and heated town hall meeting, in which Ewa Beach residents complained that the park is overrun with rowdy squatters, dumping, and crime.

But those who live there say they're just trying to live peacefully.

"I'm just so tired, so tired. I try my best to keep the area clean,” said Lorelee Sampaio.

Sampaio can’t remember how long she has been homeless, but says the homeless are not the ones causing the problems, It is outsiders coming into the park, she claims.

“I'm in constant pain, but I walk the beach and I pick up the broken glass, pick up hooks, lines,” she said. “People come in here late at night and play music, loud music. That's not us … leave the people alone."

Founder and CEO of Valoha Giving Movement, Christine Bush, said most of the people who live at the park are current or former meth addicts who want help. Bush is also a licensed mental health counselor and has been working with the homeless there specifically for three years.

"A lot of them lost their jobs,” said Bush. “I mean we have Terry who lost a child who put him into depression, and a lot of times depressing brings them into drugs and they end up here."

Terry Kernanghan was upset at Thursday night’s town hall meeting in which some Ewa Beach residents demanded that the park be closed at night, essentially evicting the homeless.

Homeless say kicking them out is not the solution — that they need treatment.

"They fall into two categories – mentally addicted or biologically dependent – and providing means to help them out of that situation, isn't being provided," said Christopher Adams, who has lived at the park for roughly a year.

Councilwoman Kymberly Park disputed that point: “To promote that the homeless at Oneula Beach Park have not been offered housing or help with drug addiction is a false narrative," she said.

"Numerous social workers and professional homeless organizations have offered help with their addictions and free housing and they have refused the help. We strongly discourage this organization from enabling this group and drawing addicts from all Over the island to move into our neighborhood. We ask that they work with professionals who know how to really help the homeless.”

Valoha Giving Movement will be at Oneula Beach Park this Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon with food, books, interview clothes and toiletries. They say anyone willing to donate items or their time can attend.

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