Papakolea residents raise concerns about growing homelessness in their community

Families hemmed in by the homeless ask for help protecting Papokolea

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents of a Hawaiian Homes' community are growing increasingly concerned about an uptick in homeless people living near their community.

Residents at the Kalawahine subdivision say the homeless have camped at the entrance to their neighborhood and are harassing them.

“They’re stopping the kids and asking them for $5 to drive up the road from over there,” said Richard Soo, who lives in the subdivision.

On the cross streets of Kapahu and Anianiku, there are several cars home to about half a dozen people.

Augie Awong is among those living on the streets. He said he was recently evicted and was born and raised in Papakolea.

“What do we do? Where do we go? Are you going to throw us out of our own neighborhood?” asked Awong. “That’s where we come and that’s where we’re at right now.”

Soo said one of his biggest concerns is being exposed to COVID-19 whenever residents are approached by the homeless. “We don’t want our kupuna to pass prematurely," said Soo, who is 70.

“Me and my wife, we’re trying to put ourselves in the bubble to protect ourselves but every day we got to go down there and expose ourselves.”

On Friday, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands put up no trespassing and no parking signs. They said they’re also planning to install gates to secure the area.

“I think that would be a perfect solution,” said Soo.

Awong said DHHL was also supposed to help the homeless seek housing.

The department released the following statement:

“The Department’s standard practice in addressing illegal campers on unencumbered DHHL land is to partner with homeless service providers who will then work with those in need.”

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