Legality of large Maui homeless sweep to be decided by high state court

Maui homeless camp / file image
Maui homeless camp / file image(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Nov. 20, 2022 at 11:46 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawai’i Supreme Court will decide the legality of a large homeless sweep conducted last year in the Kanaha area of Kahului.

Several residents of the Pu’uhonua O Kanaha encampment near Kanaha Beach Park sued Maui county, claiming they were denied due process and their constitutional rights were violated when officials seized and destroyed their property.

According to court documents, the County claims residents forfeit constitutional protections over their property when they violate the law in a public space.

“This extreme position that the county has taken, is one that has implications not just for houseless people, but for everyone, because it would authorize a complete disregard of due process for all people’s property,” Wookie Kim, ACLU of Hawaiʻi legal director, said. “Because of the idea that if that property is, quote, ‘in violation of the law’, it is not protected by the Constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii says the County gave notice for people to vacate but ignored requests from dozens of residents for a hearing to contest the sweep.

In March, a judge dismissed the county’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

More than 60 people lived at Pu’uhonua O Kanaha, Maui’s largest houseless encampment at the time.