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Homeless removed from Kakaako lot

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 1:13 p.m. HST, Mar 17, 2011

About 30 homeless people were ordered to pick up their belongings and vacate a Kakaako parking lot yesterday, a day after many were displaced from their encampments several blocks away as part of a Kakaako beautification project.

Meanwhile, the head of the agency that removed tents and other debris from about 50 to 70 encampments on Tuesday said about 30 of the 100 homeless people who once lived on the streets of Kakaako Makai returned Tuesday night — most of them without their tents.

The manager of the parking lot bounded by Halekauwila, Keawe and Pohukaina streets called police after receiving complaints from residents of a nearby high-rise. The company operates the lot under contract with Hawaii Community Development Authority, which oversees development of Kakaako.

HCDA is the same entity that spearheaded the cleanup, which gave between 75 and 100 homeless people in lower Kakaako until Tuesday to clear their encampments.

Michael Yoshikawa, 41, was frustrated by the need to pick up all his possessions and move for a second straight day.

"What do they expect us to do?" Yoshikawa said. "Everywhere we go, they kick us out."

Bella Enriques, 61, has spent the past several years tucked under a tree along Keawe Street. Up until two days ago, she had only two other neighbors. Now, she too must leave.

"I got nowhere to go," Enriques said, saying that homeless shelters won't take her in because she needs an ID card. Hers was stolen.

Needing to move again took second priority for one family, who lost their brown and white fox terrier-chihuahua mix during Tuesday's exodus.

Morgan, a 6-year-old Royal Elementary student, said everyone in the old encampment recognized the dog belonged to her and her mother, Erica, who did not give her last name. Several neighbors on bicycles promised to help look.

HCDA did not kick the homeless out of Kakaako Makai, but made it clear it is now enforcing laws barring tents and other structures and keeping people off the grass. On Tuesday, state and city workers joined volunteers in clearing the area of several tons of debris left behind.

Over the past two weeks, about 25 homeless from Kakaako Makai moved nearby into the Next Step Shelter and the Evans bus shelter, both run by the nonprofit Hawaii Helping the Homeless Have Hope, or H5.

Anthony Ching, HCDA executive director, said his agency recognized that many of the people living in the area are chronically homeless who have tried going to shelters and, for various reasons, have not made the transition back into regular housing.

"They are probably not the ideal candidates for placement (into shelters)," Ching said.

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