Gov. David Ige says he is open to ideas to solve the growing homeless problem in Kakaako.
According to a group that works with the homeless there, the number of tents has nearly doubled in the past couple of months, from 100 in April to 183 just last week.
It’s a sharp increase that has caught the attention of the governor.
“I’ve been through that area about five or six times since the beginning of the year and we definitely are aware it is a concern,” he said.
Part of the problem is a loophole that makes it difficult for law enforcers to move the homeless out, because Kakaako is divided by different landowners. When the city does a sweep, the homeless can move into the private lots to avoid getting evicted.
On Wednesday, Honolulu City Council chair Ernie Martin said he planned to meet with Ige to discuss a plan that would allow the city to take charge and move homeless out of the area.
When we spoke with the governor Thursday, he said he was interested to hear more as long as there was a place for them to go.
He added that the state is already looking at parcels of land where they can be relocated. In fact, he’s been meeting with the landowners, Hawaii Community Development Authority, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Kamehameha Schools to come up with a solution.
“We have been organizing meetings to try and talk with the landowners to make sure that when we take action we are all agreeable on how we should proceed,” Ige said.
The governor says there are parcels of land nearby. It’s just a matter of having enough resources that can accommodate everyone in Kakaako.
“There may be some parcels in the area that might be suitable. You have to have access to water and facilities and those kinds of things,” Ige said.
If the plan moves forward, the next challenge would be getting everyone in Kakaako to relocate.
“If I had to answer, honestly I like it here where I’m at,” said Anthony Nao, a homeless camper in Kakaako. “It’s very convenient.”
“We don’t have transportation and it’s closer to the stores, the hospitals,” said Angel Kaahanui, who also lives in Kakaako.