[Hpn] Maui housing truggles

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Sat, 10 Feb 2001 18:49:08 -0700

Thursday, February 8, 2001

By Gary Kubota, Star-Bulletin
The tight housing market has forced families
on Maui to live on beaches.

Maui families
must vacate
beach park

But housing on Maui is so
tight that many may move
to other beaches
By Gary Kubota

KAHULUI, Maui -- Several families living at Kanaha Beach Park are planning
to move by tomorrow -- the deadline set by the county to leave the park. But
many say they'll probably move to other beaches because they can't find
affordable housing in a tight Maui market.

"There isn't anything that's feasible out there," said Anna Kaikala, holding
her 10-month-old girl in her arms. "The housing situation is so bad."

Some 40 homeless people, including about 24 children, have lived in pitched
tents and under strung tarpaulins for months in a 10-acre area on the west
side of the park.

A number of families have animals, some ducks and dogs, including pit bulls
chained near their tents. There are garbage cans piled with rubbish and
flies in some areas.

County officials plan to clear the former camp ground starting at 8 a.m.
tomorrow. County spokeswoman Karlynn Kawahara said police will enforce the
notice to vacate the sites and will issue citations to anyone resisting it.
Kawahara said the state health officials have warned that the campgrounds
and restroom facilities are unsanitary and pose a health risk.

"The fact there's human feces all over the place doesn't suggest its a safe
place," she said. "The incidences of crime have also been a concern."

Homeless families said a few people have failed to clean up their camp sites
and contributed to sanitation problems.

A number of the homeless said they were grateful that Mayor James Apana
waited until after the holidays to serve the notice and waived the daily
$3-per-person camping fees for the past three months, in hopes of helping
them to save enough money to rent a home.

Since the county issued the notice on Jan. 17, three families have left.

Parks director Floyd Miyazono said officials will review whether to reopen
the campgrounds a month or two from now, after the area has been made
sanitary. He said the county is considering improving the area by filling in
the low ground susceptible to flooding and installing picnic tables and
barbecue areas.

Kawahara said state and county officials have been at the camp grounds at
least once a week since September, assisting the homeless and trying to help
them find housing.

But officials acknowledged finding housing hasn't been easy.

Rents in some areas of Maui have increased by hundreds of dollars in the
last year, because of an increase in construction and a need to house
construction workers, real estate brokers say.

"It's gone up quite a bit," said Scott Sherley, president and principal
broker of Max Sherley & Associates. Sherley said in the central Maui area, a
two-bedroom house rents for $800 to $1,000, compared to $600 to $700 about a
year ago.

The main homeless facility in Wailuku, housing nearly 1,000 people, is full,
with eight families on the waiting list. Many of the families at the park
have already been in county homeless facilities at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless
Resource Center in Wailuku and been asked to leave, said its executive
director Charles Ridings. Ridings said once asked to leave, a family usually
needs to wait six months before being eligible for re-entry.

Kaikala said her family of six, including four children ages 10 months to 13
years old, have been looking for a home since October, when they left a
house the bank repossessed.

She said although she works as a part-time receptionist and her husband is a
full-time mechanic, they've had difficulty finding a house with affordable
rental price and landlords don't like to rent to large families. Kaikala
said she and her husband earn too much money to qualify for most government
subsidized housing programs.

"I hope and pray something will open up," she said. "It'll happen when it
happens. We just have to stay positive."

 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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