Permanent home within reach for tenants of Waianae encampment

Permanent home within reach for tenants of Waianae encampment
Updated: Sep. 19, 2018 at 5:20 PM HST
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WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Leaders of one of the state's largest homeless encampments say they are getting ready to move.

The head of Puuhonua o Waianae, Twinkle Borge, says she's working with a landowner to purchase a 20-acre property in Waianae and hopes to have the deal done by the end of the year.

"We are working with one architect right now," said Borge.

It's a move Borge says has been in the works since March. That's when state officials announced plans to sweep the decade old encampment, which sits on conservation lands near Waianae Boat Harbor.

The governor ended up calling off enforcement. But the state hasn't come up with a plan for where the camp's more than 200 residents will go.

"We are actually going to be doing it in private," said Borge. "Trying to do things on our own. Just to secure a little bit more for our people."

Her plan is to move people out of tents and into permanent structures. Borge says there will be plumbing and electricity in communal kitchens and restrooms. Residents will also pay monthly rent.

"We have been calculating things and I think that people will pay not more than $120," said Borge.

Queenie Marcellino-Filo has lived in the encampment going on six years.

"Ninety percent of the people here would love to go to the land," she said.

Although it will be hard to say goodbye, Marcellino-Filo says she's excited for the future.

"Oh yes. I am very happy to say that I'll have a roof over my head. A solid roof and not a tarp," said Marcellino-Filo.

Although the exact location isn't public yet, Borge says the $1.3 million property is convenient.

"It's on the bus line. It's got water lines," said Borge.

She added she's already started receiving donations to go towards payment on the land.

"I think people donate because they believe in what we're doing," said Borge.

In a statement, the Department of Land and Natural Resources said it wants to support the move.

"The Dept. of Land and Natural Resources is working with the Puuhonua o Waianae to identify possible land parcels to relocate the village," the department said. "In addition, DLNR has met with various state and county agencies to understand what permits are required to implement the Puuhonua vision.

"Since most of the parcels we are considering are zoned for agriculture and do not have needed infrastructure readily available, finding a suitable property is challenging, but not impossible."

Anyone who wants to support the move can call Borge at 808-699-7446 or James Pakele at 808-223-2160.

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