Kakaako homeless encampment cleared, but some haven't moved very far

Kakaako homeless encampment cleared, but some haven't moved very far
Published: Oct. 14, 2015 at 5:55 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 15, 2015 at 7:48 PM HST
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KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time in two years, the sidewalks on Ohe Street in Kakaako are free of tents.

There is still a good amount of rubbish on the ground, but for the most part the people who were living there are gone.

On Wednesday morning, crews completed the final phase of project to clear out what was once one of the biggest homeless encampments in the nation.

Before the sweeps started Sept. 8, state officials said 293 people were living on the streets in the area. As of Wednesday, 158 of those people have gone into shelters.

It took a little over a month to clear the camp; the city did the work in phases so that advocates could work with the homeless and offer them space in shelters and other resources.

Some of the homeless, though, opted not to move into shelters, but elsewhere in the Kakaako area.

Charade Kean, who had been living in the Kakaako Makai encampment since February, said she and her boyfriend were offered space in a shelter but turned it down because it was too far away from where they needed to be.

Now they're trying to figure out where to camp next. And they're not the only ones.

"I think a lot of them (the Kakaako homeless) went back to Ala Moana and places they were chased out of before," she said.

On Wednesday, a growing encampment could be seen forming at Kakaako Waterfront Park. It's unclear if officials will clear the area this week.

Scott Morishige, the governor's homeless czar, said the state wants to increase funding to outreach and Housing First programs as part of efforts to address the homeless crisis.

Housing First is a nationally-recognized program that puts the homeless into housing, then tackles any other issues they might have.

Morishige said the state also wants to increase its inventory of affordable housing and monitor areas where new homeless camps have popped up.

"As we get reports of these new encampments coming up we are working with outreach providers that we contract with to have them offer that same type of assertive outreach and continue to offer resources in those areas," he said.

For example, Morishige said outreach teams made contact with people in a new encampment in Kalihi Valley on Wednesday morning.

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