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County cleans out more homeless camps

KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii County Highways Divisions crews, Hawaii Island police officers and Hope Services Hawaii employees worked to clear more homeless camps Thursday in the Kailua-Kona area.

The effort began about 3:30 a.m., when the three groups went to Old Kona Airport Park. There, several people were cited for camping in the county park after hours, police said.

Crews cleaned up campsites at the oceanfront park before heading to Alahou Street, Honl’s Beach Park and a drainage channel on Hualalai Road to roust the homeless. Makeshift housing just feet off Alahou Street was nearly cleared as of Thursday afternoon.

Hope Services employees offered outreach options to individuals at each of the sites. Two people who were living in the drainage channel on Hualalai Road accepted help from the organization.

No sweeps will occur today as it is Good Friday and most county workers are off work, said Barbara Kossow, executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim. Beyond this week, no more sweeps are planned to her knowledge.

“I think as it pops up, the county is going to address it,” she said.

Kossow said the county sweeps were spurred after the mayor’s office received a call Monday regarding homeless camps in Kailua-Kona. That followed the state, which on Monday had contractors clean out a large homeless camp at the intersection of Palani Road and Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

The mayor’s office, Kossow said, relies on the community to help point out concerns that might not yet have been brought to the county’s attention.

Concerns can be submitted online via the county’s website at www.hawaiicounty.gov/office-of-the-mayor. There, click on the “Comment and Concerns” button and fill out the form.

Both efforts came on the heels of the annual Point In Time Count, a nationwide survey of each county in the country that seeks to take a snapshot of how many homeless people spent a night in a shelter or outside of one, last week.

According to the count, homelessness appeared to be down this year on the Big Island as well as slightly throughout the entire state. Homelessness on the Big Island dropped from 869 to 690 this year, a 21% decrease, according to the count.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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