City completes latest sweep of homeless in Kaka'ako
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Dump trucks were filled to the brim as the city cleaned the sidewalks of Kaka'ako Makai. Not counting Friday's totals, crews have filled seven bins of stored items, 29 shopping carts and 26 tons of trash over the last month.
"I believe we're going to establish a record for our removal actions," said City Facility Maintenance Director Ross Sasamura.
Not lost among the chaos, dozens of volunteers passed out lunches or moved boxes. Students from the nearby medical school say they've come to know these folks like neighbors.
"We're here all the time. My friends play with their kids and their dogs. I don't think that them living here permanently is a solution in any way, but I don't think the way they're treated now is right either," said University of Hawaii medical school student Megan Sumiga.
Just as they did Thursday morning, the city provided buses to shuttle folks from Kaka'ako to shelters. However, city officials did say that among the 100 families they moved Thursday morning only eight took advantage of the service.
"We actually checked capacity before we began enforcement yesterday to make sure there is enough space for everybody," said Sasamura.
Despite the city's efforts to break up the state's largest homeless encampment, those who call Kaka'ako home say the effects are temporarily cosmetic.
"Is it reasonable to think that most of these families will be coming back here? Oh yeah. It's a given," said Tabitha Martin, who is homeless.
The city says when the sweeps are complete, they'll continue enforcement maintenance where crews will frequent the cleared areas to remove garbage and clear out anyone living on the sidewalk.
Scott Morishige, Gov. David Ige's coordinator on homelessness, announced Friday that a total of 48 people who had been living in Kaka'ako (including eight families, three couples and five singles) have moved into shelter in the past week. Individuals and families were primarily placed at the Institute for Human Services, Next Step Shelter and the Lighthouse Emergency Shelter.
"By working together, we have made a positive difference in the lives of these individuals and families. This would not have been possible without close coordination between homeless outreach providers, shelters, the state and the City and County of Honolulu," Morishige said.
Since Aug. 7, state-contracted outreach providers have offered shelter and permanent housing resources to individuals and families in the Kaka'ako Makai area. A total of 152 people (including 23 families) have been placed into shelter or permanent housing.
"In our 37 years of delivering homeless services, we have not seen a more coordinated, organized and well-executed outreach campaign take place in Hawaii," said Clinical Director for The Institute for Human Services Jerry Coffee. "We would like to congratulate the State's Homeless Coordinator, Scott Morishige, and the Governor's leadership team on homelessness for their successful effort in addressing one of our country's largest homeless encampments. Their leadership brought homeless providers together to share resources and provide various services to addressing the individual needs of many people throughout Kakaako. We also acknowledge our government leaders who worked closely with service providers to ensure adequate shelter space and housing resources were available throughout each enforcement phase."
Coffee says in two months, IHS staff moved 18 families (44 individuals) and 32 single individuals from shelter into housing. This allowed 73 additional individuals from Kaka'ako to seek safe shelter and housing during this time period for themselves and their children.
• 10 families (15 adults and 24 children) and 23 single adults into shelter.
• 3 families (6 adults and 5 children) placed directly into housing.
"We will continue working with each client to ensure housing and self-sufficiency becomes their end goal. And we look forward to continued progress as we develop new coordinated strategies and approaches to addressing other homeless encampments throughout Hawaii," said Coffee.