A piece of state land in Kakaako could soon be used to help deal with the area’s growing homeless problem.
For years now, streets around the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine and the waterfront park have been lined with tents where the homeless live.
The city conducted sweeps that often involved holding onto confiscated belongings for up to 30 days.
On Wednesday, KHON2 learned that a state agency is pitching in to give the city a plot of land just off Ahui Street to store those belongings.
In a deal with the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the city will take over maintenance of the property and use it for a variety of purposes.
“We believe it to be a prudent move because it creates a presence in that area that might discourage perhaps some of the homeless activities in the area,” said HCDA executive director Anthony Ching.
And those activities have increased. Ching says the city can do with the property what it wants.
“Our memorandum of agreement with the city allows for non-exclusive use of the warehouse space for operations as well as open yard space for parking and storage,” he said.
Storage, according to the city, could mean storage of those tents and other belongings from the homeless who are camped illegally.
This does not sit well with everyone.
“If we’re supposed to be this modern, moving-forward society, that we ought to be able to take care of all people who live in this society, no matter what their values are. We should provide basic needs like housing,” said resident Lisa Mitchell.
City officials say items confiscated after a homeless sweep will be more secure at the lot near Ahui.
Ching and others agree that the situation needs a long-term solution.