Delay in Maui County program that allows homeless to sleep in cars overnight stirs concern

The county had hoped to launch the project on Oct. 1 but a new start date is unclear.
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 7:04 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 18, 2022 at 7:24 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been more than a month since Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino eagerly announced that homeless individuals would be allowed to sleep in their cars and vans in the parking lot of the Cameron Center in Wailuku.

The county had hoped to launch the project on Oct. 1.

However, at Tuesday’s Affordable Housing Committee meeting, the county’s Budget Director Michele Yoshimura announced the pilot project has been on “pause.”

“We did pause until we got word on how we want to proceed with the resolution that’s in committee right now,” said Michele Yoshimura.

Councilwoman Kelly King introduced a resolution urging the mayor to provide greater transparency regarding the project. She said key stakeholders were not consulted and called the mayor’s news conference a surprise.

“The process has not been transparent, and I’m concerned that our will as a council is not being followed,” King said in the meeting.

The program was intended to help working people who simply cannot afford housing. The county even planned to set up porta-potties.

The Cameron Center is centrally located and close to social service providers.

Supporters of the project were outraged at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The process was screwed up,” said Napili resident Junya Nakoa. “I’m passionate about this because some of my aunties live in their cars. They have jobs, but now it’s not going to happen.”

A vote to adopt Councilmember King’s resolution that caused the delay failed.

County officials said after Tuesday’s failed vote, the administration will now resume its work with the Cameron Center.

A new start date is still unclear.