ANAHOLA — Campers at Anahola Beach Park were told to vacate or face arrest on Thursday.
Anahola Beach Park is divided by county park land to the north, and the state and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to the south and west. Whenever there is enforcement on one property, or to clear out for Thursday maintenance, the homeless groups simply dragged their tents to the section not being enforced that day.
That worked until the bulk of the long-term squatters were cleared out in a sweep late last year. Since then, around 25 people remain, according to Napuanani McKeague, founder of the Voices of Kauai network. The group includes two families with several children between them, and the rest are couples and individuals who say they are treated the same as the partiers and delinquents that frequent the area and cause trouble day and night stealing gas and leaving rubbish all over the site.
“We live a guilt by association life because we have to camp by a lot of these people,” she said.
McKeague said some people who left the site are actually just hiding nearby because they still need to be near the bus and restroom facilities. She said the only real answer would be for the state or the county to designate an area for the homeless to park and live with a bathroom and shower facility.
McKeague said Voices of Kauai has been working since 2006 to observe and report harassment and non-response to homeless complaints on Kauai. She was in Anahola on Thursday when four campsites were ordered to move.
“No one was arrested,” said Claire Collar, a Voices of Kauai member and one-time camp resident. “The land agents were very formal and polite and it was all handled very professionally and nice.”
The DHHL Kauai Land Agent Kaipo Duncan was present with four land management enforcement officers. A DHHL spokesperson said the campers were first-time offenders and told they were trespassing and given a verbal warning to break the tents down and clear the site by 4:30 p.m.
DHHL officers do not have arresting powers. They call police when they encounter repeat violators or when they have a confrontation with an individual.
The DHHL Congressional mandate since 1920 is to process lease applications for a 99-year homestead to people with 50 percent or more Native Hawaiian ethnicity. DHHL improves the infrastructure and maintains the roads, but does not build the homes.
There are three types of DHHL homesteads for 203,000 acres of managed land around the state. The residential leases and the Native Hawaiian pastoral lease land for livestock and agriculture are the first two, and the commercial leases to non-Hawaiians for projects like the Anahola Solar provide revenue to develop the homestead sites and roads.
The DHHL does not provide park lands, the spokesperson said. Camping on the land is not an option.
The problem is the homeless campers have nowhere to go, McKeague said. Some of them even have a HUD Section 8 certificates but can’t find a private owner who will take it.
“There is not enough public housing,” she said.
Voices of Kauai works to bring credibility to the working homeless and the families that have nowhere to go. Volunteer members listen to the stories of people who talk about being harassed by fellow campers or when the authorities don’t listen to their side of the story, she said.
The goal is to provide a unified voice on the condition of the homeless and present ideas on alternative camping sites or hushing if possible, she added.
Deborah Ward, information specialist for Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the DLNR had no involvement in the camping enforcement activities in Anahola on Thursday. She also said there is no work underway to identify a state-run homeless camping area on Kauai.
The nonprofit Kauai Economic Opportunity provides traditional housing programs including the Mana Olana overnight shelter. It also provides a care program with support services for the chronically homeless and those recovering from substance abuse issues.
McKeague complained that too many people are turned away from the shelters for lack of space.
Stephanie Fernandes, director for Homeless and Housing Programs at Kauai Economic Opportunity, said the Mana Olana overnight shelter was approved by the county to support 19 homeless people each night. There is a bay for single men and another for single women, and three rooms for families.
It is a first come, first serve opportunity at 5 p.m. with a meal and check out at 7 a.m., Fernandes said. Some nights they may only have 10 people and on other nights, they fill to capacity and must turn away people.
Not everyone uses the shelter. There are background checks, and persons with convictions of distributing or manufacturing dangerous drugs, or sex offenders are not allowed because of the nearby transitional family housing.
There could be room for more but the limits are based on expected water usage and the size of the septic system, Fernandes said. Others choose the services of the KEO Care-A-Van, which provides food, water and supply services with scheduled stops are spots around the island.
KEO transitional housing includes eight one-bedroom units, and eight two-bedroom units in two separate buildings. There is also a five-bedroom home for individual homeless in Puhi.
KEO owns a five-bedroom home in Kapaa for permanent housing. By the end of the year, Fernandes said KEO plans to complete renovations to two homes with three bedrooms each as transitional housing for large families.
The nonprofit KEO is certified to work with private landlords to administer HUD Section 8 rent subsidy for elderly and the disabled. It also manages a Shelter Plus program for severe mental illness and chronically homeless due to past substance abuse.
KEO is a member of the Kauai Community Alliance and the Continuum of Care Committee to address gaps in the care of the homeless. KEO is also a member of the rural island organization Bridging the Gap with a goal to end homelessness.
“We partner with a lot of volunteers in the community and value our volunteers,” Fernandes said.
• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.