Where to now?

Displaced homeless without answers

by Amanda Gregg – The Garden Island

HANAMA‘ULU BEACH PARK— The families still present after the county closed Hanama’ulu Beach Park yesterday didn’t typify what some envision when thinking of the homeless.

Take, for example, Octavia Nakamura, who has spent the past five years in a tent with her disabled husband. Nakamura has 51 great-grandchildren, 49 grandchildren, and is mother to 12.

Anthony Powers, who hitchhikes daily to work, shares a multi-tent home with his wife, Clelia Pirotton, and their 19-year-old son. The family has been struggling to save up enough for first and last month’s rent.

Though his wife and their son qualify for Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity housing, Powers doesn’t, as he has a felony on his record. “We want to keep the family together,” his wife said.

For Nakamura, the reason for deciding against KEO is different — she would rather keep the $500 required deposit and put it toward health care for her husband, Mitchell.

With the little Social Security check she gets — $658 a month — Nakamura is barely able to cover the expenses she needs to care for husband, who suffered a severe stroke in March 2001.

“I am not happy living here, but I am not going to move into a place I cannot afford,” Nakamura said.

Though she has plenty of family, Nakamura said she doesn’t like to take handouts.

“I never depend on my children. I handle,” she said.

Though Nakamura says she is picky about those whom she befriends, she says if anything, she takes pride in helping other homeless residents.

“Even with my tight budget, I share if someone is hungry,” she said.

Unlike the Nakamuras, who plan to move their tent onto property owned by a relative, Powers and Pirotton weren’t so certain of their next steps.

Most of the other residents of Hanama‘ulu Beach Park had already evacuated the park Wednesday night and early yesterday morning following police reminding them the county would be closing the park for one month.

Though it would have made it easier for police to enforce keeping the park empty had the county opted to close up the park entirely, the rangers said the park will remain open. Authorities will still be enforcing a no-camping policy for the next month, however, police said.

Lt. Kaleo Perez said the county is keeping the park open so that Kaua‘i residents, such as fisherman who use the river mouth to launch boats, will be able to go in the afternoons and return in evenings without disruption.

Capt. Ale Quibilan said he felt for the dozens of homeless who were moving from the park, most likely to another beach, likening the problem to a “revolving door.”

“They’ll go wherever they feel there is shelter or a water source,” he said, adding he hopes those in need will utilize the help of county housing, the Department of Health or any non-profit, such as the Salvation Army.

The Kaua‘i Drug Court Program, Kaiola Canoe Club, Wal-Mart, the Hanama‘ulu Neighborhood Center and students will help with beach’s cleanup project, which will include painting, repairing the pavilion roof and replacing boulders that people removed to drive on the beach.

For more information on the project, contact Eddie Sarita, HNA president, at 241-6623 or via an e-mail to esarita@kauai.gov.

• Amanda C. Gregg, assistant editor/staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or agregg@kauaipubco.com.


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