Residents of Oahu’s largest homeless camp now face an uncertain and uneasy future as the state announced its plans this week to clear it out within the next several months.
Twinkle Borge has lived at the Wainae boat harbor since 2003. She's the leader of what's become Pu’uhonua o Waianae, but her 15 years here could be reduced to less than 15 weeks now that the state says it wants them out.
“June would be too soon. We have this any people to relocate and everything, it’ll take time. Maybe September or October.” explained Borge.
Borge said community members were told they’d receive plenty of notice before any type of announcement was made about the 19.5 acres of state land.
She claims that promise broke Tuesday night when the state said it's clearing the camp in a matter of months.
"I emailed, I also told them do not do that. Not until I believe we're done with our meeting and we come up with a solution.” Said Borge.
Now she's worried about what will happen to her "family" of more than 200 residents including children, 130 dogs and nearly 130 camps.
“One thing about our community is they’re beautiful. They stick together, so whatever happens, happens. I know the support is there. But, for my kids, that’s who I will protect.” Said Borge.
"This is my home. I wouldn't want to go anywhere. I’m pretty sure no one wants to move out of their own home if they were forced. These kids are the reason why I will fight for Twinkle and I don't care who will come. They're not moving me." Said Pu’uhonua o Waianae resident Queenie Marcellino-Filo.
Ultimately, the state plans to put a marine science education center on the property, but would say little about the people who live there now.
"Our office continues to work with the residents there, and we will continue to talk with them.” Said Cindy McMillan, Communications Director with Governor Ige’s Administration. “We have made a commitment to the camp leader that we will not be talking about this in the media."
State representative Cedric Gates represents the district that includes Pu’uhonua o Waianae. He explained the goal is to get the families housed.
"What I don't want to see is that we rush this and then we displace these 200 people and we have them scattered across our coastline into other neighborhoods. Then we compound the homeless problem on the Waianae coast." Said Gates.
The next Waianae board meeting is set for next Thursday.