- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - Residents of a Honolulu homeless encampment that had grown to about 300 people have been warned that city crews are planning to clear part of the area.

Officials posted signs on the outer streets of the Kakaako encampment on Tuesday, explaining that they would enforce rules next week that prohibit leaving personal property on sidewalks.

Alvin Wayne James, who said he has been homeless for about a month, packed the tent he had recently pitched in Kakaako before cleanup crews come through.

“I heard you could come out here and put up a tent and nobody would bother you. Now I come out here and find out they’re going to sweep the joint next week,” said James, who said he had to leave his Kalihi apartment after the building was sold.

The notices were posted after a team of outreach workers helped 43 people living on Kakaako streets to move into shelters. Eight families and nine individuals were among the people who moved into shelters in recent weeks. The notices, which were posted on fences and trees and handed out to people living in Kakaako, were written in English, Marshallese, Chuukese and Samoan to ensure that people moved here from Micronesia and other parts of Polynesia would understand what’s happening.

“People cannot camp and take over parts of our city and state property that has been built and designed for everyone, not one specific group. It’s not safe,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a news conference.

The crews would not conduct the enforcement unless they knew there was enough shelter space for the displaced individuals and families, Caldwell said.

“We want folks to move into shelter space,” Caldwell added. “And I do believe that compassionate disruption does work. We’ve seen it happen in Waikiki, downtown, Chinatown and other parts of this island, and we’re going to begin that now in Kakaako starting today.”

Back in Kakaako, a couple carefully read the notice in Marshallese while they sat at a picnic table in the shade.

James said he’d probably head over to pitch his tent at a park near the University of Hawaii. He said he doesn’t want to go to a shelter, because he’s concerned about bed bugs and doesn’t want to abide by shelter rules, including curfews.

“Most of the people out here, including me, are on some kind of substance,” James said. “And so don’t think you can just put them in some little thing where we can’t get to that substance. I don’t like this life … I don’t know why anyone would choose this life.”


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