A homeless encampment was cleared on Maui amid community complaints Thursday morning, May 9.
Truckloads of personal belongings were removed this morning as 30 individuals were evicted today from this homeless encampment in Kahului where authorities say complaints have surfaced over illegal activity.
Other concerns include public health and safety. The camp is located on land owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and is adjacent to the Family Life Center, which provides services for homeless.
“Our final notice was to be out of here by 8 o’clock this morning, if not they’re going to start arresting us,” said Lorna Maalea, a woman being evicted.
Maalea has been without a home since July of last year and has been living at this particular encampment since before Thanksgiving. Like others at the site, she has declined help and is not sure where she’ll go next.
“They’re not addressing the real problem. Where ever we go they chase us away,” she said.
County officials say social workers and others have been actively and assertively engaging unsheltered people to get them housing and other much-needed services.
“Anecdotally, I know that services here on Maui have the capacity to house every one of those people, but they’ve not wanted to engage in housing services so it’s really quite sad,” Director of the Department of Housing and Human Concerns Lori Tsuhako
According to the latest Point in Time Homeless Count, there are 862 homeless individuals in Maui County. The numbers are only a 1% improvement from last year, but housing officials say progress is being made.
“The thing that we are doing better now than we did 10 years ago is that the coordination among the agencies, the use of common assessment tools, and the coordinated entry system,” said Tsuhako.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino thanks the various agencies that participated in the coordinated effort.
He said addressing homeless ‘hot-spots’ requires compassion for people who’ve fallen on hard times, suffer from mental illness or other circumstances.
“A lot of people judge us because we’re here you know by choice you know. but times is hard and they could find themselves in the same place that we’re at. You know, I didn’t ask to be here but unfortunately you know due to circumstances, this is where I ended up,” said Maalea.
County officials say it is their hope that eventually, homeless individuals will accept offers for services and resources that the county and social service agencies provide.