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Homeless families leave Kakaako encampment

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The city plans another sweep of the Kakaako homeless encampment on Tuesday

Another 13 people living in the Kakaako homeless encampment have packed up and left as the city prepares to sweep 20 to 25 occupants on Tuesday.

Gov. David Ige announced Friday that 13 people from the encampment — including two families, a couple and four single adults — boarded a city bus on Thursday and moved into the Lighthouse Emergency Shelter in Waipahu, where they will receive both housing and social service assistance.

A census conducted the week of Aug. 3 found 293 people living in the encampment near the University of Hawaii’s medical school and the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Museum.

Since Aug. 7, Ige said, 56 people from the encampment have moved into shelters, including 10 families. They represent about a third of the 31 families counted during the census.

Ige spokesman Jodi Leong said the people who left Kakaako on Thursday went to Lighthouse because it had beds available for families.

Hawaii’s largest emergency shelter, the Institute for Human Services, also has been taking in people from the encampment. But IHS frequently has no room for families.

IHS spokesman Kimo Carvalho called Ige’s announcement “awesome.”

“We’ve been encouraging people to consider Lighthouse,” Carvalho said. “It’s pretty far out there but it’s safe and we can always bring services out to them.”

The encampment of wood-reinforced tents and tarps has become a health and safety concern as police and ambulance calls to the area continue to rise.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell had agreed to Ige’s request to delay sweeping the area until enough shelter beds became available.

On Tuesday, city maintenance crews are scheduled to move into an outer area of the encampment bordered by Ala Moana Boulevard and Cooke, Ohe and Ilalo streets to clear out any belongings left behind by the estimated 20 to 25 people given warning notices earlier this week.

Caldwell has said it will take months to remove everyone from the encampment, which he expects to do in phases as shelter space becomes available.

In a statement, state homeless coordinator Scott Morishige said: “This collaborative effort between the state, city, federal government and a variety of service providers is the primary reason we are seeing such progress. As we move more families and individuals out of shelters and into permanent, supportive housing, we are making room for those currently on the streets who will now begin their own transition.”

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