Homeless near Keaau Beach Park pack up again

KEAAU BEACH PARK (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three weeks after the city cleared out about 200 people living on the undeveloped side of Keaau Beach Park, many of the homeless campers are packing up again. Some of them simply moved across the street, so now the state is stepping in.

Jamie Calarruda lived at Keaau Beach Park with her husband and son for a couple of years. They moved across Farrington Highway ahead of a city clean-up last month.

"Then they just came and said that everybody had to go, so from one spot we moved to another, and now they're saying that the state owns this and we have to move from here," said Calarruda.

State officials said the new homeless camps along the side of the road are a safety hazard. Crews will clear out trash along both sides of the highway starting on Wednesday. This latest eviction is sparking a range of emotions, from sadness to anger.

"What did I do so wrong to where they gotta do this to me? I no steal. I no rob. I work in the ocean. I work hard. I make my money. They no can do this to me," said Garth Bailey, a homeless camper.

"I'm so used to living by the beach and now I don't want to sell my shells cause I'm in the bushes, not at the beach," said homeless camper Sharlene Sotelo.

Calarruda refuses to give up her pets in order to move into a shelter. Now, like the other campers, she is looking for a new home.

"They've just scattered. Some went to the boat harbor. This man up Lualualei, he's got a lot of land, so he opened up his land," said Calarruda.

Oahu's homeless problem is the focus of a new transitional housing project. The city will spend $3.5 million to acquire a building and renovate it if needed.

"The reality is that housing is one of the biggest barriers to serving homelessness," said Darryl Vincent of Partners in Care.

The facility will be for homeless with special needs, such as mental illnesses, disabilities, or addictions. Honolulu mayor Peter Carlisle said the site will be somewhere in urban Honolulu, based on community feedback.

"The last thing you want to do is ram this down the throat of a community. You want to make sure that they are going to be involved and they know what they are getting into," said Carlisle.

The city is now asking for proposals from local non-profit groups interested in running the day to day operations.

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