Kakaako homeless react to notice of city enforcement starting Sept. 8
KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Monday, August 31, officials will start posting signs warning the homeless who are living on the outer edges of the Kaka'ako homeless encampment that city enforcement to clear them from the sidewalks will begin September 8.
Once the notification goes up, the homeless who live there will have nine days to pack their belongings and find somewhere else to go, but many who spoke to Hawaii News Now say if it was that simple, they would be off the streets already.
"They said it's supposed to be a big sweep. Everybody is supposed to be out," said 42-year-old Jansen Amantiad, who has been living in Kaka'ako for the past eight months. When asked what his plan was he replied, "To get off the streets? Hopefully for the best."
Enforcement will begin after Labor Day. Officials say they're going to target the area of between Cooke and Ohe streets first and will slowly work their way in to the larger tent city that has formed closer to the Children's Discovery Center.
"You can pretty much expect that. They're upgrading Kaka'ako. It's a NIMBY kind of thing -- not in my backyard, you know?" said Samson Bohol, who has been homeless for four years and says he hasn't figured out what he'll do when crews come through.
"Try to grab what I can carry. What else can I do?" the 44-year-old said.
About 25 homeless people live in the area officials plan to start with. City leaders say there is enough shelter space for all of them.
"Right now, plenty of people are afraid to move into shelters because they're like prisons - they really are," described 52-year-old Nessa
Vierre says she was displaced from Chinatown into Kaka'ako when officials started enforcing the sit-lie ban. She has two dogs she says
she loves more than anything else, but they're not welcome at nearby shelters -- so instead she's taking her chances on the streets.
"Dogs shouldn't live like this. For real. Honest to God. If there was any place I could go, I would," said Vierre.
Bernadine Lalosin has been living with her husband under a makeshift tent along Ilalo Street for nearly a year now.
"Certain shelters won't take couples because I can't be separated from my husband -- that's the only thing that we don't want. We have to be together because we're stronger as a unit. They're pushing us, but if they don't have enough shelters -- what's the sense? People are going to come back," the 45-year-old said.
A survey of the homeless encampment in Kaka'ako done earlier this month found there are 293 people living here. Officials say since that was conducted on August 3, nearly 10% have since moved into shelters or found housing.
But Lalosin says it's not just about getting people off the streets, she says something has to be done to prevent them from ending up on the sidewalks in the first place.
"Even though they got some of us going into shelters. The next time they turn around, there's more people out there so no matter what they do it's going to be a constant thing. It's going to keep going, going, going until they do something about the rent increases," explained Lalosin.
City officials say enforcement will take place during the day and Honolulu Police officers will be present, though they won't be in uniform in hopes that will keep tensions from rising. Officials say they will return every day to the areas they've cleared to make sure they stay open to the public.
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