- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 8, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - City officials cleared an area on the outskirts of one of Honolulu’s largest homeless encampments on Tuesday.

Most people living in the area had already left by the time city maintenance crews arrived to begin enforcing the city’s rules against leaving personal property on sidewalks. Crews dismantled a few tents left behind and tossed miscellaneous debris in a garbage truck.

One couple with a young child in a stroller packed up a tent.

Providers of services to the homeless spoke to the few who remained about going to a shelter. Two specially chartered city buses were expected to take people to a shelter in Waipahu.

The city hasn’t enforced the personal-property ordinance in the area since last November, said Jun Yang, the executive director of the mayor’s office of housing.

“What we’ve come to find is that this area has grown into a homeless encampment since that time. The community has been asking for something to be done for our homeless in the area,” Yang said.

The public wants to be able to go to the nearby Children’s Discovery Center and public parks, and the city wants to help people get assistance, Yang said. “This is an opportunity for us, working with service providers, to coordinate efforts to help people come off of the streets into shelter and housing,” he said.

City crews didn’t touch the main section of the camp where most of the estimated 300 people living on Kakaako’s sidewalks are staying.

A survey released by the governor’s office last month showed more than 40 percent of Kakaako’s homeless are families. But homeless-service providers say there’s currently little to no space for families in Honolulu’s shelters. At the Next Step shelter in Kakaako, for example, families can wait for a month or two before space opens up.

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