After years on the beach, these Native Hawaiians occupied a housing complex. Some got to stay
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After living on the beach on the Waianae Coast for years, nearly two dozen homeless Native Hawaiians planned a move Tuesday ― showing up at an affordable housing complex.
They didn’t have permission to occupy Ulu Ke Kukui complex in Maili, which is on state Department of Hawaiian Homelands property, and a community group helping the homeless admits they didn’t have an OK, either.
But they claimed the Native Hawaiian beneficiaries were entitled to live there.
“They have a right to be here. They are beneficiaries of this land,” said Lena Suzuki, of Waianae Moku Kupuna Council.
The units that they’ve occupied had running water, but no furniture, appliances or fixtures.
Lovey Aona, 60, who came from Lualualei Beach Park, can’t walk and has an open sore on her leg.
She said she’s hoping she’ll get to stay.
“I don’t know what’s going on right now, but Iʻm happy,” Aona said.
“If I have to leave, gotta leave, but I know the kupuna is going take care us.”
“I’m nervous and scared to get this house,” added Waynette Akana, who also lives at Lualualei Beach Park.
The property manager was clearly surprised by the unauthorized occupants.
But after quick phone call, there were hugs and handshakes. The group was allowed to fill out applications.
The Hawaiian Community Development board is redeveloping the complex and President Kali Watson told Hawaii News Now there are other Native Hawaiians already waiting to move in.
“My concern is I don’t know anything about these individuals so in order to protect the safety of not only the tenants, but more importantly the children, we need to take a look at who is applying,” said Watson.
After some tense back and forth, police were not called and there was an apparent agreement for a handful of kupuna, like Aona, to move into units that are move-in ready.
Others, like Akana, were instead told to submit an application and for now will have to head back to the beach.
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