Honolulu homeless families respond after canal banks cleared

AP News
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Posted: Jun 09, 2015 8:28 PM
Honolulu homeless families respond after canal banks cleared

HONOLULU (AP) — Homeless families in Honolulu are figuring out where to go after the city swept the banks of a canal where they were living in tents.

Crews cleaned up the area along the Kapalama Canal on Tuesday. The cleanup came less than a week after the City Council finalized a ban on sitting and lying down in the area.

But the cleanup was enforcing a stored property ordinance, not the sit-lie ban, said Jesse Broder Van Dyke, spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Single mom Stefanie Sanchez, who was living in a tent by the canal with her 5-year-old daughter, waited with their friends and belongings on a side street. They planned to move right back to the canal bank after the cleanup was complete.

"There's a lot of community here, as well as a feeling that we're home. We know what to expect here," Sanchez said. "We're just sort of hoping, praying for the best."

Under the stored property ordinance, crews are required to give 24 hours' notice so people can remove their belongings.

The city spends $15,000 a week for crews to perform similar sweeps throughout the island, Broder Van Dyke said.

"Usually people will return after they're gone," Broder Van Dyke said. "If they enforced it every single day, it would probably be more effective, but right now we're spending $15,000 a week on it, and the crew has to get to all over the island, so they end up getting to Kapalama about once a month."

To enforce the ordinance, a crew from the city's Department of Facility Maintenance goes out five days a week to locations from Hawaii Kai to Waianae, and Chinatown to the North Shore. Workers remove, on average, 4 to 8 tons of garbage per week, not including the personal property items they store for later retrieval, Broder Van Dyke said.