Kaua‘i’s Shelter in Place program unique in state

  • Contributed

    A copy of the “Temporary Emergency Camping Permit Conditions” given to all houseless individuals. It was revised in December of 2020.

LIHU‘E — The Kauai “Shelter in Place” program was the first in the state when it started six months ago to help provide a place for houseless individuals during COVID-19.

And though permits for houseless camping in county parks are set to expire next month, officials say they will still be doing outreach.

Developed by the County Housing Agency, the program put the county Department of Parks and Recreation in charge of campsites in several county parks where houseless individuals could secure permits to camp.

It’s just one of the many programs overseen by CHA Director Adam Roversi, with staffmembers dedicated specifically to address the issue of homelessness.

That position was created less than three years ago, so a program dedicated to homeless outreach has been a “relatively recent endeavor” on the county level.

“Traditionally, homelessness issues (have) been something that has been in the state’s kuleana,” Roversi said.

”I’ve been the housing director for about a year and a half. And only a short time before I was appointed as director did the housing agency have someone who was designated as a homeless coordinator.”

When the COVID-19 emergency came to Kaua‘i, the county used their new staff member to coordinate with nonprofits who work with houseless individuals and provide safe camping zones as well as resources.

“No other counties did that. They closed all of their parks to everyone,” Roversi said. “So I applaud the parks department for providing that opportunity that isn’t available anywhere else.”

While the program provides that safe space for some, it’s triggered tension in other parts of the Kaua‘i community, with complaints from the general public starting to stream into the Mayor’s Office, asking for the parks to be returned to regular use.

“There’s a tension with other portions of our population that want to go camping weekend at the park, for example, and don’t feel that they can safely do that,” Roversi said.

“There’s a building pressure from the general public and complaints to somehow address the large number of people that are currently living in these apartments to revert to some sort of normalcy.”

Staff from the Department of Parks and Recreation handle most of the day-to-day interactions with the people using the “Shelter in Place” camping zones.

According to Wallace Rezentes Jr., deputy director of parks and recreation, individuals who don’t comply with park rules are issued a warning, citation, and if behavior doesn’t change, ultimately have their permit taken away. The length of time dedicated to that process varies with each instance.

“It depends on the severity of the permit infraction, the number of warnings and citations issued,” Rezentes said.

As they prepare for the expiration of permits in the “Shelter in Place” program, Rezentes Jr. said, the department is working with other agencies to “provide resources and alternative accommodations for members of our houseless community.”

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Stephanie Shinno, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

6 Comments
  1. kimo Edwards February 19, 2021 8:21 am Reply

    Mahalo Stephanie for sharing the list of conditions. I am curious who is in charge of enforcing those paper conditions? That list is more a description of what is going on at Lydgate than any kind of restrictions that are actually being enforced. I hope there is a plan for turning this loose on our beautiful island other than just a longer list of more rules that will also not be enforced.


  2. Be reasonable February 19, 2021 8:35 am Reply

    And where are these people supposed to go? A lot of families at the beach parks. Are we really going to push them out into areas where they won’t have bathrooms and beach showers? If they have to leave on March 31 (sounds like that is what the notices say) and the Mayor isn’t going to let us rejoin the state’s travel program until the end of May, how are they supposed to find work to provide for themselves and afford some kind of roof overhead? The incompetence and lack of caring for both business owners and the most vulnerable among us that is on display from the Mayor and the county in general is staggering. I really hope people are going to run against the people that have let our community collapse next election.


  3. kauaiboy February 19, 2021 9:25 am Reply

    Ms. Stephanie Shinno (who wrote this article):

    Interesting that two articles about the houseless staying at County Beach Parks appeared in today’s paper. Your article is not getting the same number of hits as your colleague’s article “An end to housless beach park camping” .

    Please re-read through your article to see if you come up with some of the same questions I have:

    1. If the other Counties have not chosen to allow the houseless to reside at beach parks, where are their houseless staying? Or have the other Counties relented and opening their beach parks to the houseless and how are they doing?

    2. Is anyone from the County checking to see if beach park “residents” actually have permits? How often?

    3. How many people/tents/structures can each permit accommodate?

    4. What is the number of PEOPLE currently using County beach parks as their residence?

    5. Could the actual number of people/permits be greater than the stated numbers because many beach park “residents” are without permits?

    6. Where is the County expecting all these people to relocate to? March 31 is just 40 days away.

    7. Has TGI interviewed any of the myriad of houseless residents who are residing at the beach parks to ask what they think of the County’s plan to shut down their established place of residence?

    8. Will the houseless leave the beach parks voluntarily at the deadline date or will they resist?

    9. Can an Anini or Anahola Beach Park resident who is evicted on March 31 relocate to Salt Pond and reside there until June 30?

    10. Is there a limit to the number of houseless which each beach park can accommodate?

    11. Whose quote is this “…the large number of people that are currently living in these apartments to revert to some sort of normalcy.”?? Apartments?? Normalcy? Please clarify.

    Do your jobs as reporters and investigate the situation and report on it fully. Is that too much for your readership to ask? Or are you being constrained by the publisher or the government as to what you may report, and what you may not?

    Mahalo.


  4. Mr.Ford February 19, 2021 10:08 am Reply

    Other states paid money to put the homeless in hotel rooms with the federal funds they got from the properganda flu. Kauai found a way to not to go that route and put in a place that wasn’t going to be used because of the over control of gatherings.


  5. I saw a Vampire once February 20, 2021 10:19 am Reply

    Have tried placing the homeless in the mountains? Then give them food every month program. Like inside of Kauai. This would be a good idea.


  6. I saw a Vampire once February 20, 2021 10:26 am Reply

    Place them in the middle of Kauai. Until the pandemic is over. Isolate them. And treat as unclean. Cannot touch. Make a program for it. This will turn heads in the nation. Offer food and water there. Good idea.


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