"It was a big relief:" Waianae homeless encampment sweep called off for now
Leader of "Pu'uhonua O Wai'anae Village, Twinkle Borge says she met with Governor Ige for nearly two hours, Tuesday afternoon. "Came out of his mouth that there will be no sweep, so for me I'm happy," Borge said.
Residents of Oahu's largest homeless encampment say they're relieved after being notified that the sweep has been called off.
Leader of "Pu'uhonua O Wai'anae Village, Twinkle Borge says she met with Governor David Ige for nearly two hours, Tuesday afternoon. She says during the meeting, he reassured her and other community leaders that at least for now there are no plans to sweep the site.
"Came out of his mouth that there will be no sweep, so for me I'm happy," Borge said. "I came home.. got to share with the village crying in tears, because we've been fighting so hard just to prove to them that we are not like any other encampment."
Borge says Governor Ige's request to personally meet with her at a private residence in Nanakuli came as a surprise. A photo of the two was posted on social media, later Tuesday evening.
"I got to share with him the experience that I've gone through, especially with the kids asking, 'Mama, are we gon' be alright," Borge said.
Pu'uhonua O Wai'anae is home to more than 200 village members, including 18 families with children. Borge, who's lived at the Waianae Boat Harbor since 2003, says the village is more than a safe zone for Oahu's homeless. Adding that it provides a support system for those who need help dealing with various issues like alcoholism, medical problems, unemployment, and the state's affordable housing crisis.
It was nearly a week ago, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the state homeless coordinator announced plans to clear the camp by the end of June. Borge says she attended previous meetings with the state, but felt like her voice hadn't been heard until now.
"It was just their way or no way," Borge said. "They would come here and tell us things, and apparently he [Governor] never knew the things that was being said to us, so at least now we have a clearer direction. At least I'm happy that we can come to table with the man himself."
In a statement, Governor Ige confirmed the meeting:
“I met with Twinkle and other community members to reassure them that there were no plans to take enforcement action on this site and to let them know I am committed to working with them on a transition plan to find suitable housing at other locations. We will also be working with them to protect the natural and cultural resources on this site.”
"To me what he said was a blessing. It was something that needed to come to the table and something that needed to happen," Borge added. "It was a big relief for us."
When asked about of the future of the camp and its residents, Borge says she'll know more when the next meeting happens in a couple of weeks. For now she says she is secure in knowing the sweep isn't happening for now.