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Record-setting trash prompts extension of homeless sweep

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    A city crew clearing the Kakaako homeless encampment was not able to meet its Friday deadline because of the amount of debris with which it had to contend. Above, Gabriel Aio dragged his assortment of bike parts out of the Ohe Street sec- tion of the camp.
  • Gabriel Aio dragged his assortment of bike parts out of the Ohe Street sec- tion of the camp.
  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    City work crews continued sweeping the Kakaako homeless encampment on Olomehani Street on Friday afternoon. They started in the morning on Ilalo Street and
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There was so much debris and trash left behind in the Kakaako homeless encampment that a special city cleanup crew could not meet Friday’s deadline to clear out the encampment and will have to return Monday.

The delay gives the last remaining occupants of the encampment a weekend reprieve.

The crew from the city Department of Facility Maintenance on Thursday began what it hoped would be a final, two-day push through the encampment. But after collecting enough wooden structures, metal and other trash and personal items to fill 2-1/2 garbage trucks, the crew needed all of Friday just to finish cleaning up Olomehani Street.

The crew now plans to return Monday morning to tackle the last section on Ohe Street that runs along the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center.

“We’re going to be asking for the public’s patience and understanding,” said Ross Sasamura, who is in charge of the cleanup as the city’s director and chief engineer of the Department of Facility Maintenance.

This week an estimated 100 people remained in the encampment as the city moved in.

On Friday only a family of five and one individual boarded a city bus to take them to homeless shelters. A family of four got on a special shuttle to go to the Institute for Human Serv-ices, Hawaii’s largest emergency shelter, and a few went to IHS on their own, city spokesman Jay Parasco said.

In all, 48 people who had been living in Kakaako — including eight families, three couples and five singles — moved into shelters in the past week, said Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator.

“By working together we have made a positive difference in the lives of these individuals and families,” Morishige said. “This would not have been possible without close coordination between homeless outreach providers, shelters, the state and the City and County of Honolulu.”

Since Aug. 7, he said, 152 people — including 23 families — were placed into shelters or found permanent housing.

Others told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Friday that they would rather find somewhere else to sleep.

Al Huihui, 58, has tried staying in shelters but prefers living on the street. He sat with his belongings, but a friend who was supposed to pick him up never appeared.

“It doesn’t look like he’s going to show up, so I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Huihui said.

Lia Pu‘u had been living with her 19 dogs on Olomehani Street and moved to Ohe Street on Thursday night as the city’s cleanup crew moved in.

Between Thursday and Friday one of her dogs died, another ran away and she gave a third away, leaving her with 16.

Since no shelter will take her dogs, Pu‘u planned to sleep in her van Friday night — but first she had to find a battery to get it started.

“I figure, what else am I going to do?” she said.

The cleanup crew had collected a record 7.26 tons of debris and trash during a previous cleanup of the encampment around Ala Moana Boulevard and Keawe, Coral and Ilalo streets that ended Sept. 21.

But Sasamura said the last push through Kakaako will break that record “because of the volume of debris that was left behind. This one’s going to be more.”

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