Hawaii County officials are looking to expand a recently established safe zone for homeless campers.
The officials are interested in obtaining a 5-acre parcel of land in Kona to supplement Camp Kikaha, which has reached full capacity with 28 residents, most of whom were among those ordered to leave Old Airport Park in August, KGMB-TV reported.
The camp was established by Big Island Mayor Harry Kim last month to provide homeless people with a safe place to camp while they search for permanent housing.
It is equipped with a few open-air canopies, showers and portable toilets.
“I think it just goes to show if there is a safe place for people where they can keep their things, get a good night’s sleep, get meals provided when necessary, have shower facilities, that they will utilize it,” said Linda Vandervoort, who helps run the site.
Camp residents are not required to stay sober while living at the site, but are asked to keep drugs, paraphernalia and alcohol off the property, she said. The camp costs $23,000 a month to run, according to the county.
With the site at full capacity, Vandervoort has had to turn people away.
Hawaii County officials are working with the state to obtain the land and expect to reach a deal by October. They hope with the extension, the camp will be able to support up to 100 homeless residents.
There is also talk about dividing the future site into three sections to separate men, women and couples and incorporating a parking lot for people who live in their cars, the island’s homeless coordinator, Lance Niimi, said.