The leader of one of Oahu’s largest homeless encampments said Gov. David Ige on Tuesday promised her “no sweep” but offered no details on the future of the encampment known as Pu‘uhonua o Waianae, located next to the Waianae Small Boat Harbor.
Twinkle Borge, who’s known as “mamas” to the occupants of Pu’uhonua o Waianae, said she met face-to-face for 90 minutes with Ige on Tuesday afternoon at the Nanakuli home of legendary waterman Buffalo Keaulana.
“We asked him, ‘No sweep?’ and he said, ‘Yes,’” Borge said. “It was beautiful when he said no sweep.”
In a statement Wednesday, Ige said: “I met with Twinkle and other community members to reassure them that there were no plans to take enforcement action on this site and to let them know I am committed to working with them on a transition plan to find suitable housing at other locations. We will also be working with them to protect the natural and cultural resources on this site.”
State officials said last week at a Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board meeting that they were planning a marine science learning center where the camp is and the homeless campers would need to be moved out by early June, Borge said. The officials said the state faces a deadline for obtaining federal funds and the land needs to be cleared and restored before they can apply for the money, Borge said.
The encampment sits on 19.5 acres of state land where state Department of Land and Natural Resources officials worry about damage to natural and cultural resources. Next door, DLNR also faces vandalized bathrooms at the boat harbor, along with rubbish and excessive water use blamed on the homeless.
Organizers of Pu‘uhonua o Waianae said there are 169 people and 148 dogs in 133 camps inside Pu’uhonua o Waianae, which was once considered a model of what government-sanctioned homeless encampments could look like in Hawaii.
Borge said she and the others there have gotten mixed messages from state officials because of the possibility of the federal grant for the marine science learning center.
So she was happy to meet face-to-face with Ige.
“I got to share how I felt,” Borge said. “He said we’ll work together from now on to work toward a solution. I’m glad that we had this meeting. It was all aloha.”
Borge said Ige’s pledge to not clear the encampment was welcomed news for the people of Pu‘uhonua o Waianae.
“We cried together,” Borge said. “They were just so happy to know that no sweep is coming.”