HONOLULU (KHON2) – Multiple solutions are needed to address the growing homeless population, and the Maui County Council and Mayor Michael Victorino are taking a step to tackle part of the issue.

Mayor Victorino announced the signing of Bill 108 granting homeless people to sleep overnight in vehicles in county parking lots. 

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The bill was approved unanimously by Maui County Council Tuesday, Aug. 23 and was announced Thursday Sept. 8 during a press conference. 

According to Victorino, this law now enables a one-year pilot program for houseless individuals to sleep overnight in their vehicles in a county parking lot.

J. Walter Cameron Center in Wailuku will be the County’s preferred site after the Maui County Council and the Mayor’s Office worked together on locations.

“I thank the Councilmembers for working with us to select the Cameron Center,” said Mayor Victorino. “It is centrally located, so support services are easily accessible and its location near Maui Memorial Medical Center and the Maui Police Station are important considerations for the health and safety of those who will sleep overnight in their vehicles.”

The pilot program is expected to begin as soon as October after finishing contract details and allow about 25 to 30 people to sleep in their cars. Bill 108 has been allocated $200,000 in the fiscal year 2023 budget. 

Maui County Councilmember Yuki Lei Sugimura said feedback from the community could help determine what happens after the year pilot is up, and it will continue or even expand to other areas. 

Sugimura said, “The county needs to hear from communities about having homeless parking cars or vehicles, in their communities in County parking lot. So, what is the impact? What are your concerns?” 

Although those who may be spending the night in the parking lot are coming from different walks of life. The Maui Chamber of Commerce President Pamela Tumpap said she has heard of full-time employees having to sleep inside their cars because they are unable to find housing they could afford. 

“A place that is safe, where people can sleep overnight, without getting ticketed, or having to be moved, so they can actually have a good night’s rest,” Tumpap said. “And for those who are working, get up and get to work for those with children can get the children to school. Now we’re back in school. It is a tool.”

Affordable housing is a big priority for the chamber of commerce and its members. Tumpap said this pilot is meant to be temporary to meet the housing crisis, but more is needed. 

“On behalf of the board and staff of the Cameron Center, we are looking forward to this partnership with the County,” said Executive Director César Gaxiola. “Our founder, J. Walter Cameron, was well-known throughout Maui for his compassion. I believe he would be pleased to offer a safe zone for people who need a place to sleep.”

According to Gaxiola, the J. Walter Cameron Center is a nonprofit organization with a mission to incubate, support and accelerate social good in the community. Victorino said it’s the perfect spot for this pilot program which was established in 1973.

Tumpap said, “If we can put cars in spaces, then we can put roofs over people’s head in spaces.” 

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Those who are interested would need to apply to the county’s department of housing and human concerns.