State to clean up, fence off area under Nimitz Hwy. viaduct

A multimillion-dollar cleanup aims to address health and safety concerns under the Nimitz Highway viaduct.

Officials say there have been incidents in the area, including thefts of copper and electric wires that affect lighting on the H-1 Freeway, break-ins of nearby businesses, and fires.

While we were there, we saw dozens of tents, shopping carts, piles of trash, even solar panels.

From Oct. 23 through Nov. 17, the state is planning to clear the area from the vicinity of the Moanalua Bridge to the viaduct off-ramp to Kamehameha/Nimitz Highway.

Officials estimate about 180 people are living there in campsites and cars.

Starting Monday, Oct. 16, the Office of the Homeless Coordinator, Department of Public Safety, and contracted service organizations will provide advance notice and outreach on available services.

A contractor will then clean the area and sort, haul and store items left behind.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources is allowing the Department of Transportation to close part of Moanalua Stream so people can’t float their belongings to another site.

We’re told some of the homeless living there are familiar faces.

“Many of the people living in this area have been homeless for several years. A lot of them have had previous experiences with shelters or service providers that hasn’t necessarily been positive,” said state homeless coordinator Scott Morishige.

The city and state have been working to make it easier to get in to a shelter. We’re told many no longer require a picture ID to get in.

Morishige says the cleanups have been effective. Since they began in late July, 62 people have been moved into shelters or permanent housing.

“Sometimes it will take 10, 20, 30, sometimes more contacts, but the important thing is really building trust and rapport, building a relationship,” Morishige said. “The only way we can end people’s homelessness is if we can put them on a path to permanent housing.”

Funding for the cleanup is provided by a pilot program made possible through a $2 million appropriation from the State Legislature and $2 million in matching funds from the DOT.

Once areas are cleaned up, they will be fenced off, monitored through 24-hour security, and used for construction storage.

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