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Houseless Encampment Leaders Want Seat at the Decision-Making Table

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Wayne Yoshioka
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Leaders from 3 homeless encampments came together at the Honolulu Museum of Art to discuss their futures.

 

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Credit Wayne Yoshioka
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Twinke Borge, leader of Pu'uhonua 'O Wai'anae

They don’t have houses but they have a home.  And that home is Hawai’i.  Many are houseless by choice and want to work with government and community leaders on solutions.  Twinkle Borge is the leader of Pu’uhonua ‘O Wai’anae. 

 

“We gotta make that noise up in the Capitol to let them know that we exist.  That we still alive and we still here.  You know, and I think we are the ones that gotta be the textbooks to them.  You know, they read everything from books and what not but we live it daily.  We go through it daily.  And I believe we can be their answer.”

 

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Credit Wayne Yoshioka
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John Ka'ulupali, leader in Kaka'ako

John Ka’ulupali is the chosen leader in Kaka’ako.  He doesn’t envision Kaka’ako as a safe haven for the houseless in the future but wants to work with everyone.

 

“The houseless community, we’re not bad. We just made bad choices along the way.  You know, but just going about with your sweeps, it hasn’t been working for the last 20 years.  So why don’t we do something about it and work with each other instead of trying to fight each other.”

 

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Roz Sargent, leader in Waimanalo

Roz Sargent is the leader at Waimanalo Beach Park.  She meets monthly with a neighborhood board subcommittee on homelessness and says they are close to a solution in the area which has no transition shelters.  

 

“Just this past week someone from the Canoe Club approached me and said they have land that has electrical wiring already and has running water and they’re just waiting for the governor to give the okay that they can use that land to house us there.”

 

Waimanalo houseless residents also receive funding for 3 loads of laundry each month.  Danica Shoji has provided that service for the last 3 years.

 

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Craig and Danica Shoji, donates money for laundry and hygiene center mobile trailer

“We went through about 4-thousand to 5-thousand pounds a month.  So, it’s about 50 to 80 people that come to our service for about 5 to 6 hours. So it cost us, maybe, between 12-hundred to 15 hundred every month to do their laundry.”

 

Shoji’s husband, Craig, meanwhile, is waiting for insurance and permitting for their latest project.

 

“We started a nonprofit called Revive and Refresh, which is a mobile hygiene center.  So the trailer has 3 showers and an ADA bathroom also so there’s a shower, toilet and a sink.”

 

Borge says the houseless need a seat at the table during government discussions and decisions and has invited the public to see first-hand what has been done in Wai’anae.

 

“So November 3rd we’re having an open house from 10-to-2.  We’ll be having also prototype homes that will be stationed there for people to see what can be come Pu’uhonua or even for other places also.

For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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