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City rousts homeless campers from Waipahu cultural center’s grounds

City rousts homeless campers from Waipahu cultural center’s grounds

WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) – More than 40 homeless campers living in the brush behind Hawaii’s Plantation Village are preparing to move.

There are three separate encampments around the property, and they’ve spurred increased concern in recent months.

Outreach workers say the majority of homeless in the area are local, and many were priced out of their homes.

Petelo Kemi, who lives in the area, said having to move is a significant disruption.

“I understand it’s their property, but I’m a little upset because we take care of this place and they should take care of us too,” Kemi said.

Joseph Acosta, outreach worker at nonprofit ALEA Bridge, which is helping homeless in the area, said those living in the area just can’t find affordable housing. “It’s just the cost of living out here in Hawaii and some type of trauma that happened in their life,” he said. “And of course it’s drug use, crystal meth is huge out here.”

Once everyone is gone, the city plans to cut back the brush that camouflaged the campsites.

“It will help tremendously because there’s a lot of overgrowth and you can’t really see what’s going on,” said Deanna Espinas, executive director at Hawaii Plantation Village.

Over the past six months, the plantation village staff has filed more than 50 complaints with the city about the situation.

Their photos show evidence of drug use and people using the grounds as an open latrine.  Each day, custodians have to clean it all up — before busloads of schoolchildren arrive.

“We have to rush every morning to prepare the property to make sure it’s clean and sanitary,” said Espinas.

For weeks, service providers have been working to connect the people behind the village with a place to go. They say about half seem interested in getting housing.

Meanwhile, the City Councilman who coordinated the effort says he believes it will help.

“But clearly follow up action will be needed in terms of monitoring the situation,” said Honolulu City Council Chairman Ron Menor.

The enforcement effort will last through Thursday. To report homeless campers to the city, call 768-4381.

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