Waianae divided over relocation of state’s largest homeless camp

Updated: Nov. 15, 2019 at 11:55 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The relocation of the state’s largest homeless camp is facing new resistance from its would-be neighbors.

The Waianae community is divided over where the large homeless village in Leeward Oahu should go.

The homeless who live there say they want a better quality of life.

However, those who would be welcoming them into their neighborhood have concerns.

[Read more: Thanks to donations, Hawaii’s largest homeless camp a step closer to a permanent home]

“In the recent years, we’ve had people ripped off our car. Took off the catalytic converter. Stole it. Caused over $1,000 worth of damage. Traced it back and a lot of the people are from that area, boat harbor,” said Waianae resident Robert Narmore.

Residents on Piliuka Place are worried about approximately 250 homeless people moving directly behind their homes.

“We’re not about ‘not in our backyard’ we totally do support them, there’s lots of people in our neighborhood that help out the homeless,” said Napua Izzi, another Waianae resident.

Puuhonua O Waianae has raised roughly $900,000 to move the camp at the edge of Waianae Boat Harbor to a 20-acre parcel of agricultural land off Waianae Valley Road.

It came to fruition after the state first announced plans to sweep the encampment. The governor later called off enforcement after the homeless begged for more time to come up with a plan.

Community members gathered in Waianae Thursday evening to address residents’ concerns and hear from project leaders themselves.

“There’s nowhere we could put this where there’s not going to be opposition,” said James Pakele, a longtime advocate for the encampment. “And at the end of the day, all we trying to do is house people. Kids shouldn’t have to shower in front of everybody. Adolescent girls shouldn’t have to be showering in front of people.”

The Waianae homeless camp has been working for more than a year to raise their goal of $1.5M for their new permanent home.

“It pains me to know that our happiness and our joy is somebody else’s unhappiness,” Pakele said.

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