Homeless encampment once hidden near Ala Wai not so hidden anymore

A homeless encampment once hidden along the Ala Wai isn't so 'hidden' anymore
Published: Jun. 22, 2017 at 1:15 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 22, 2017 at 6:47 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A homeless camp that had been hidden in the mangroves along the Ala Wai Canal is beginning to emerge as more and more people are moving in.

The camp is along the canal next to a dog park behind Iolani School and Ala Wai elementary.

People who frequent the area said there had been a single disabled homeless man who had been living, hidden in the trees, for more than a year. "A year after he came, people were going by and they saw, and they decided to make their own little houses in the trees," said Sandy Wong, who volunteers in the dog park every afternoon and evening.

"Several people -- three or four people showed up with bicycles, trash, belongings, spread all over," said Jan, a jogger who didn't want us to use her last name.

Now there are up to a dozen homeless people, some of whom are building makeshift structures in the branches.

At first, Wong didn't mind the increase in the homeless population there. But problems have been mounting, including a large number of bicycles that have popped up along the adjacent pathway that's popular for biking and jogging.

"We didn't care about that. But we care about the smell of the urine and the fact that they're running a bike factory over there," said Wong. "And they've got beer cans and cigarette butts all over the place."

Wong also said since the homeless population increased, so have thefts from the dog park.

"Five hundred dollars worth of (garden) hoses, so now we have to haul them back and forth with us, every afternoon, every night, back and forth, because we can't leave anything here," she said.

A city spokesperson said the land is controlled by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. The Institute for Human Service has started outreach efforts in the area. But joggers like Jan are starting to avoid it.

"I don't feel comfortable any more, jogging on that particular section," said Jan.

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