Hawaii Homeless Program Moves Over 40 People Off Streets

Dec 29, 2019

Honolulu authorities say a pilot mobile homeless center program has seen success after launching multiple inflatable tents at a park on Oahu.

The Homeless Outreach and Navigations for Unsheltered Persons project set up 10 tents at Waipahu Cultural Garden Park this month providing homeless people access to food, showers, restrooms and kennels for pets, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports.

“We’ve only been open for two weeks, and we’ve been wildly successful,” said Honolulu Police Capt. Mike Lambert, who came up with the idea and leads efforts against homelessness. “We’ve already been able to place over 40 people into shelter — which far exceeds what we had hoped for in the opening.”

The 400-square-foot (37-square-meter) tents house up to 10 people each, authorities said. People housed in the tents are being helped by social services agencies to find more permanent housing solutions, authorities said.

The program is a three-year, $6 million pilot project staffed by the Honolulu Police Department and Department of Community Services. The program expects to spend 90 days in Waipahu before moving to another city-owned park, officials said.

More than 20 of those who stayed at the camp and were placed in shelters were from Waipahu, but others have come from Kakaako, Pearl City, Ewa Beach and Waianae, authorities said.

The next location for the mobile shelter could be somewhere in the McCully or Moiliili area where many complaints have been received about large homeless encampments, Lambert said.

Lambert said that “initially, there’s always apprehension when something new comes to the area — and there were a lot of questions” from the community about the temporary camp, but he said early results speak for themselves.

“If you ask anyone, this is probably the safest this park has been in years,” Lambert said.