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Advocate on Future of a 'Houseless' Community at Kaua‘i's Lydgate Park

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Kaua‘i took a different route with its "houseless" population during the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kaua’i set up five “Shelter in Place” locations where people could camp long-term, but temporarily.

There are an estimated 500 people experiencing homelessness on Kaua’i. At least half stayed in the county camps at Anini Beach, Anahola, Lucy Wright Park in Waimea, Lydgate in Lihu’e, and Salt Pond in Hanapepe.

Since March, the shelter camps have been closing as the parks returned to normal use. Lydgate had the largest encampment, and a large contingent remained after authorities tried to clear the park this month.

Last week, Hawai‘i Public Radio spoke with advocate Kealoha Matsuda, a founder of Healing Kaua’i’s Houseless and Community Needs. Matsuda had been so worried about the dozens of people still in the park at Lydgate, but there was a sudden turnaround.

"We had good news today. Department of Hawaiian Home Lands came down to meet with the Lydgate community and let us know that they're going to put them on Hawaiian Home Lands for 30 days near the park," she said.

This story aired on The Aloha Friday Conversation on June 18, 2021.

Noe Tanigawa covers art, culture and ideas for Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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