(BIVN) – Now that the homeless encampments have been cleared from Old Kona Airport park, officials are ready to turn their attention towards the cleanup set for this coming Wednesday and Thursday, August 9 and 10.
Some of those who were relocated in the county sweep are also looking forward to better things.
One 20 year old named Ku’uipo, a “young blood” among the homeless who were living at Old A’s and who now lives in the Hale Kikaha tent city on Pawai Place, says she’s been on the streets about a month. “Its very hard,” Ku’uipo said, before adding that she is going to working at the McDonald’s near the Target.
“Im trying to do this on my own to prove to my parents that I can do it on my own,” Ku’uipo said.
“Hale Kikaha was a stop gap,” said Roy Takemoto, Mayor Harry Kim’s executive assistant. “Temporary in the sense that, hopefully, as space becomes available we can move whoever is in the encampment over to more permanent-type facilities.”
HOPE Services has found emergency shelter beds for 17 of 62 people living at Old Airport. The canopies next the Hale Kikaha micro-units shelter 20 additional people. The mayor issued an Emergency Declaration this week in order to waive zoning, building, and fire codes for the tents.
The county is now looking towards the next step. “One idea,” Takemoto said, “is to possibly increase the number of beds at the existing shelter, replacing the single beds with bunk beds. We need to check with building and fire, ‘cause apparently there might be some constraints in terms of codes whether we can double the density there.”
The county is also considering a land exchange with Queen Liliuokalani Trust for 24 acres near Henry Street. While those talks are “still on table,” Takemoto says the county is putting that discussion on hold in order to investigate another alternative: the 270-acres of the Kamakana Villages at Keahuolu, being developed in partnership between the State of Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation and master-developer Forest City Hawaii Kona.
According to Takemoto, the county recently learned of a “falling out between Forest City and the state,” and HHFDC, “they did not have a clear path on their next steps.”
“The whole idea is they are part of the community. It’s not to ostracize and isolate them, and put them in a ghetto. It’s to make it as comfortable and welcoming as we can while we give them assistance to help themselves,” Takemoto said.
On Friday, Governor David Ige live-streamed another Capitol Connection over Facebook, sitting beside his coordinator on homelessness, Scott Morishige.
Interfacing with other social media users, the governor was asked about state efforts on the neighbor-islands.
“I met with Mayor Kim last week. Part of our conversation was focused on homelessness,” Gov. Ige answered.
The governor mentioned the blessing for the 170 units of affordable family and senior housing at Kamakana Villages that he attended in October 2016. “We are really focused on the three levers of change and part of that is affordable housing,” the governor said.