Some homeless leaving Kakaako

Published: Aug. 31, 2015 at 8:58 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 1, 2015 at 2:10 AM HST
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Melelani Corwin and Benji Item
Melelani Corwin and Benji Item
Cleanup crews in Kakaako
Cleanup crews in Kakaako

KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Melelani Corwin and her boyfriend, Benji Item, lived in their orange tent on Ilalo street for a year and a half. Monday they left Kakaako.

"We're getting an apartment today, thanks to this church, thanks to this pastor.  We've been blessed," Corwin said. The couple will move into a group home in Waianae.

"The landlords allow homeless people to come until they get on their feet," said Thomas Couch of House of Angels Ministry.

Next week the city begins clearing sidewalks in the area between Cooke and Ohe streets. Some homeless people have already left.

In the past two weeks, Next Step Shelter housed four families, one couple, and three singles from Kakaako.

"We expect to see the numbers continue to increase. Service providers are going into the Kakaako area regularly in a coordinated way and really engaging with the families and individuals there," said Scott Morishige, the Governor's Coordinator on Homelessness.

There's another concern.  Cleanup crews from Waikiki Health Center told Hawaii News Now they're finding discarded needles, syringes and human waste around the Kakaako camp.

"Families bring their kids here.  Imagine your child coming here and stepping on a needle?" Darrel Basque said "Or (stepping) in feces," Farod Muhammad said.

Corwin and Item are from Monterey, California. They've been homeless the entire time they've lived here.

They hope moving away from Kakaako will be their turning point.

"This is the chance we've been waiting for," Item said.

Corwin said they'll leave their tent behind.

"We're giving it to whoever wants it. That's our past," she said.

An administrator with Next Step Shelter said he has received a significant number of applications from Kakaako homeless. The Institute for Human Services has space do singles but is putting families on a waiting list.

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