‘ANINI — Thinking about where to go once the ‘Anini Beach Park closes to the houseless community in less than a month has been stressful for Ceci Lindsey.
Lindsey, carrying her two-year-old son on her hip, stopped by the Women In Need tent to fill out a housing application during the county’s first outreach event as the transition to close the camp begins.
For the last year, the county has designated five county beach parks — ‘Anini, Anahola, Lydgate, Salt Pond and Lucy Wright — as “shelter-in-place” zones providing the houseless community a place to set up a campsite with access to running water, bathrooms, showers and social services. Through a monthly permit system, beach camps were meant as a way to control a vulnerable population.
County officials last month pointed to low case counts and a robust vaccine distribution as a sign of recovery, and a good time to transition out of the shelter in place program. As of yesterday, the county has given out over 27,000 dosages and is in the process of offering vaccines to all houseless residents.
Enduring the wind that knocked tents down and sporadic rain, Malama Pono Health Services, Women In Need, Project Vision, and Ho‘ola Lahui, among others, set up at ‘Anini Monday morning, offering medical, housing and social services.
June Munoz of Ho‘ola Lahui spoke with residents Monday morning.
“You have to be a little more compassionate with where people are going to go,” Munoz said.
Lindsey has been houseless for about two years, she said, but she has family that helps out.
“The process (to find housing) takes a while,” Lindsey said. “I wish they would leave (the beach camp) until we were able to get into housing.”
Lindsey came to the county’s outreach alongside another ‘Anini resident, Keala McCarthy.
“It’s sad, a lot of people here used to have jobs,” McCarthy said, noting that her wife was laid off as a housekeeper.
Both ‘Anini and Anahola beach parks will close at the end of the month, on March 31. Combined between these two parks, as of the end of February, there were 75 permitted campers, including 10 keiki.
Campers will be allowed to apply for permits at other beach parks, as capacity allows. The next beach to close will be Lucy Wright Beach Park at the end of April. Camping permits at Lydgate will end May 31, and June 30 at Salt Pond.
The county first announced the closure of campgrounds last month and will begin maintenance on the facilities, including painting, sanitization and landscaping. With the closure of ‘Anini first, some residents voiced frustration.
“I don’t need toothpaste,” said Auntie Sunee, who has lived at the beach camp since June, “I need affordable housing.”