Homeless living under Makiki bridge draw safety concerns

As homeless camp grows under a Makiki bridge, state and city leaders tackle additional hideaways
Updated: Feb. 7, 2017 at 11:25 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

MAKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - There is growing frustration as the city and state try to keep up with Oahu's many homeless hideaways.

One encampment in Makiki, for instance, is so well hidden it takes heavy rains to flush out its residents.

"It's just constantly, every month, getting bigger and bigger," said Makiki resident Jonathan Lee.

The camp sits underneath the Anapuni Street bridge near Wilder Avenue.

Lee and other residents noticed it back in March 2016 and whenever heavy rains occur, items from the camp including clothes, furniture and other debris get washed away.

On Monday, Lee witnessed a woman who lives under the bridge almost get swept downstream during stormy weather.

"She was trying to scale the 15-foot wall for the stream area and trying to get out, probably to save her own life," Lee said.

The woman managed to make it out safely, but Lee is worried it will happen again. And even if no one is hurt, the camp raises environmental concerns.

"They just throw their canned goods, empty plate lunch containers and jars and containers of urine and feces, and it all gets washed down the Makiki stream and into the ocean," said Lee.

Lee said he has contacted the city at least six times since March to come out and clear the mess. "It's disappointing it's not being taken care of."

City officials told Hawaii News Now on Tuesday that a crew will come check the site out on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the city continues its sidewalk sweeps and housing initiatives to help combat Hawaii's homeless crisis, but Councilmember Trevor Ozawa said state officials need to do a better job at clearing the homeless off state lands, like a camp under the freeway in Kahala.

"Give us the authority, give us the resources and jurisdictional access to these areas or do it yourself, but do it quickly," said Ozawa.

The City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday urging the state to work on a permanent solution to keep campers away from under the freeway.

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