A homeless success story in Diamond Head is actually far from it

A homeless success story in Diamond Head is actually far from it
Updated: Jun. 12, 2017 at 5:32 PM HST
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For more than a decade, the steep hillside of Diamond Head Monument was home to dozens of homeless campers.

That's not the case anymore.

Since a homeless sweep in February, few if any homeless have returned to the area, in what appears to be one of the few cases of the state's enforcement in homeless encampments that's actually stuck.

The fact that homeless haven't returned has even surprised outreach workers.

"I would have expected people to come back," said Justin Phillips, Institute for Human Services. "There's no fence at the bottom of the hillside stopping people from coming up."

On the surface, it may seem like a win.

But Hawaii News Now has learned only seven people who lived on Diamond Head accepted shelter. Rather than moving off the streets, the state believes homeless in the area simply found new places to camp.

Phillips agrees, saying he's encountering more homeless near Makapuu. At this count, at least 50 homeless live in that area, almost double the people counted there the first of the year.

"It's just new faces that I don't usually see," said homeless resident Angel Sunio, who lives on the beach fronting Rabbit Island with her husband and their four children. They've been there since December, and she said she used only a few other families would also stay in the area.

Now, at night, the parking lot is packed with people looking for a place to sleep.

"I know we had a problem with them leaving their trash and not keeping the bathroom clean," she said.

The Institute for Human Services said they have increased outreach in Makapuu and along the Ka Iwi Coast.

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