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A large Kahului homeless camp is cleaned out with hopes of getting campers into housing

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:25 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 8:52 PM HST
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KAHULUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - One of Maui’s largest homeless encampment is being cleared out this week.

The encampment is along Amala Place in Kahului on the way to Kanaha Beach Park – a beach that is popular for picnicking and kite surfing.

It’s also near a 70-year-old wildlife sanctuary and a wastewater treatment plant.

County officials say it has become a safety and environmental health hazard. Instead of just pushing out campers, the county hopes they will opt to move into transitional housing.

“Everyone down there has been offered a place to go,” said Maude Cummings Executive Director of Family Life Center.

County clean-up crews, along with Mayor Victorino, got to Amala Place around 7 a.m. Monday.

Heavy equipment is being used to remove derelict vehicles and trash from the camp.

Jessica Lau, who lives in her vehicle there, said they were promised that items with caution tape would not be trashed.

“As long as we mark it, then it will be fine,” Lau said.

“This is not a sweep, by any means, we would never engage in a sweep, going in, removing items, throwing them all away,” Cummings said.

Cummings said at one point the camp had grown to be the largest on Maui.

“That is the largest that I’ve seen,” said Maude Cummings. “I think the highest was at 68.”

Maui County said the CDC’s pandemic guidance that discouraged relocating homeless expired in July.

County officials said since then, they have been working with service providers and have moved 25 people in shelters, one into permanent housing.

Chanel Abilay, 26, has been homeless for four years. She has made the decision to move into a shelter and one day wants permanent housing.

“Our goal is to find permanent housing so that we can get our kids back,” Abilay said.

County officials said 13 people have moved out of the area, 12 have been offered shelter and services but remain undecided, and Maui Police Department officers served the remaining 14 individuals with notices to vacate.

“These are human beings, and this could be your aunty, your uncle, your sister, it could be you if you get sick and lose your job, it could be you if you become disabled or your child becomes disabled and you can’t work. These are regular people who are really, really struggling and they need our help end they need our support and they need us to stand up for them in really challenging times like right now,” said community advocate Noelani Ahia.

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