At least 180 squatters living under Nimitz viaduct prepare to move out
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than a dozen outreach workers canvassed the area beneath the Nimitz viaduct Monday morning alerting squatters to an upcoming sweep.
Enforcement is set to begin October 23rd, and it'll be the first large scale clean-up for the area in more than two years.
"What that has led to is somewhat of a safety and public health issue," said Institute for Human Service spokesman Kimo Carvalho. "On the safety side there is just a lot of dogs. And from the public health side there's just a lot of trash. We're talking about eight to 10 feet high in some areas."
There are at least 180 people currently living under the viaduct. Outreach workers say the majority are local and many are dealing with severe addictions to drugs.
The area is also a hot bed for crime. In addition to rampant drug use, outreach workers confirmed many of the make-shift rafts are actually floating gambling dens.
"There is extensive gambling going on along the water as well as underneath the Nimitz Viaduct itself in what they call the Red Room," said Carvalho.
Unlike a lot of encampments there are no families with children here. There aren't many immigrants either.
"This is a different demographic than what we've seen in other encampments such as Kakaako Waterfront Park but the approach is the same," said Scott Morishige.
The Governor's homeless coordinator believes consistent outreach is key to getting the people here housed.
"Sometimes it takes going out there 10, 20, 30 times you just need to continue to be persistent," said Morishige.
After the clean-up is complete, rail contractors will install fencing and provide security to keep illegal campers from coming back.
"Our plan is to work together with contractors to secure the area and make sure that it's closed off the the public moving forward," said Morishige.
Outreach workers will be under the viaduct everyday this week to offer the folks who stay there shelter and other services.
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