Gov. David Ige announced Monday that the state will start clearing out new homeless encampments at two Kakaako parks next month.

The homeless populations at Kewalo Basin Park and Kakaako Waterfront Park have increased dramatically following a month-long cleanup effort at what was once Honolulu’s biggest homeless community near the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center.

Scott Morishige, the governor’s coordinator on homelessness, said about 40 homeless people — mostly single adults and couples — are now residing in the Kewalo Basin Park, and another 90 people are at Kakaako Waterfront Park, with a large group of mostly families concentrated near the Point Panic bodysurfing spot.

Gov. David Ige says the state will step up its outreach effort before clearing new homeless encampments at two Kakaako parks.
Gov. David Ige appeared with his coordinator on homelessness, Scott Morishige, on Monday to say the state will step up its outreach effort before clearing homeless encampments at two Kakaako parks. YouTube

The Hawaii Department of Public Safety has not been enforcing nighttime closure rules at the parks, which are on state land overseen by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

The parks are supposed to close at 10 p.m., opening at 5:30 a.m. at Kewalo Basin Park and 6 a.m. at Kakaako Waterfront Park.

But the enforcement of those rules could start as early as Nov. 12, Morishige said.

Ige said his leadership team will be working with homeless service providers to make sure sufficient shelter beds and services are available before any enforcement effort gets underway.

“The ideal situation is to coordinate enforcement and displacement activities with availability of service providers,” Ige said.

About 90 people have relocated to Kakaako Waterfront Park this month following a month-long sweep at the nearby homeless encampement.
About 90 people have relocated to Kakaako Waterfront Park this month following a month-long sweep at the nearby homeless encampement. Chad Blair/Civil Beat

On Oct. 16, Ige issued an emergency proclamation to address the state’s homelessness crisis, aimed at bolstering outreach efforts and streamlining the process of building more shelters. It released $1.3 million in funding to extend existing homelessness programs that promote permanent housing.

On Monday, Ige signed a supplemental proclamation that he says “paves the way for coordinated outreach efforts by service providers and the enforcement of park rules.”

While no additional funding accompanies the new proclamation, one of its provisions allows “the interchange of personnel … between agencies or departments of the state as needed or requested.”

Under this provision, a crew from the Hawaii Department of Transportation, which has been conducting semi-annual sweeps of state roadways, could theoretically be tapped to clean up the parks.

“Going forward, we will have to have some program of compassionate disruption, just as the city does. We do know that we want to be able to respond quickly so that we don’t allow the encampment to build,” Ige said.

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