State to sweep encampment that's cropped up just outside a homeless shelter

State to sweep encampment that's cropped up just outside a homeless shelter
Updated: Nov. 29, 2017 at 5:32 PM HST
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KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Another homeless sweep is set for Friday in Kakaako. This time, it's targeting people displaced by a prior sweep — and they're camping just outside the Next Step shelter.

It's estimated there are between 50 and 60 people illegally camping in the area.

For years the fenced off piece of state land near the parking lot for the University of Hawaii School of Medicine has been used to access the shelter.

But the area once thought of as a driveway is now overrun with tents and other makeshift shelters.

"It got worse when the park trespassers were cleared out and the city did some of their enforcement," said Hawaii Community Development Authority Executive Director Jesse Souki. "The people flooded into areas they deem to be lawless,"

Souki said the area is government property and was never supposed to be used as a road.

Now, the agency is working with the Department of Transportation to secure that strip of land.

"It's not safe to be there. If someone gets hurt crossing that property without the proper access agreement the state of Hawaii can get sued," he said.

Despite being outside one of the island's largest homeless shelters, many of the illegal campers have repeatedly turned down offers of a place to stay.

"It's primarily single adults and couples in the area and many of the people who have been in Kakaako area for a very long time. Some of the people we've seen for the past several years," said Scott Morishige, the governor's homeless coordinator.

Over the past week, Morishige has been assisting with outreach. He says although most of people there aren't interested in shelter, they do want housing.

"Our main goal is to at least connect them to services to build a relationship with the outreach workers and actually get started on things you do need to get done to be able to get into an apartment," he said.

The state also says a gate has been installed at the Ilalo Street entrance. DOT will be responsible for keeping the area secure after the sweep.

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