Lawmaker wants Waianae Harbor homeless encampment cleared

Lawmaker wants Waianae Harbor homeless encampment cleared
Published: Nov. 18, 2015 at 10:27 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2015 at 11:45 PM HST
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WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For more than a decade, tents and makeshift shelters have dotted the 19 acres of state property at Waianae Boat Harbor.

Today, the site is home for 244 homeless people, including three families that just moved in.

Now, state Rep. Jo Jordan is asking whether it's time the state move the encampment out.

She said nearby schools and harbor users have complained about the campu. "At what point in time do we say it's time to allow those surrounding neighbors to have their neighborhood back?" she asked.

Jordan stressed that families in the encampment should get help to move into housing, shelters or other programs. That could take up to a year, she said.

"Unfortunately they will be disrupted. And how do we compassionately move forward with that?" she said.

Residents of the encampment say they'd appreciate extra help, but are worried about the prospect of a sweep.

Twinkle Borge has lived in the encampment for 10 years, and she said she knows the camp's days are numbered. "I'm hoping before that day even comes I push out more of the people into homes, into shelters," she said.

From 2007 to 2013, when authorities cleared the Leeward Coast of tent cities in beach parks, the boat harbor was left alone.

Jordan said that was an oversight on the state's part.

Borge added, she knows the encampment will probably come under more state scrutiny.

"I know this is not a permanent place," Borge said. "Being here this long, I'm surprised."

Jordan also said there are ecological and archaeological sites on the property and the coastline is a large area for ocean access.

"It would be a jewel for the community to use it for public purpose again," she said.

She has taken the governor and others to see the homeless camp. Some of the people there have become her friends.

Still, she believes  the village must go.

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