Maui News

County Video: ‘Āmala Place Cleanup was “Sympathetic to Care for Those in Need”

September 30, 2021, 8:37 AM HST
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Amala Place, Kahului – Maui. PC: County of Maui.

The County of Maui produced a video in an effort to reassure the public that actions taken during the ‘Āmala Place cleanup “were sympathetic to care for those in need.”

The county faced criticism from the voluntary advocacy group, Kia‘i Pu‘uhonua O Kanahā, which was formed in response to the situation. The group had claimed the county’s actions during the effort violated the civil rights of Maui’s houseless residents.

“Social service agencies completed intense personal outreach in the area during the weeks leading up to the cleanup to ensure that individual concerns were taken into consideration. Many of the men and women that were contacted were born and raised here on Maui, and they certainly deserve to live in safer, more sanitary conditions,” according to the county video.

According to the county, a team of social workers from Family Life Center and Ka Hale A Ke Ola met with residents of the encampment to offer shelter and support services.

Maude Cummings, Executive Director with Family Life Center on Maui said, “The recent activity at the Kanahā/‘Āmala Place has brought up some issues. This has been a part of our regular route for our outreach team who have gone down there for the last two or three years; but in the last week we were able to move 24 individuals into emergency shelter–and that’s between the shelter that we operate Ho’olanani, Ka Hale A Ke Ola, and the Wahi Hoʻomalu ʻo Wailuku (WHOW) project that the mayor set up last year a the beginning of COVID.”

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Cummings said outreach teams go out every day and look for people who are homeless. “This is the question we ask: ‘Are you interested in our assistance in obtaining housing.’ If the person says ‘No I’m not,’ we’ll say, ‘Okay, we’ll circle back around. We’ll come back and see you, maybe in a couple of weeks,’ and we move on to the next person. What we’re trying to do is find those people who are interested in moving on to housing right now, because housing is the only answer to homelessness.”

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Monique Ibarra, Executive Director of Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers on Maui, said that when asked to help those from ‘Āmala Place, she called it “a no brainer.” “It was something that I said, ‘yes, absolutely.’ The whole focus and mission of Ka Hale A Ke Ola is to house individuals–to break the cycle of homelessness. We would like to bring in as many of the families or households or singles into our shelters as possible.”

She said there might be some misconceptions in the community as far as what a homeless shelter looks like, but said, “we actually have one of the most beautiful homeless shelters, I would say in the whole country. And I am partial, and I’m also very proud, but I’m actually in one of the units at our shelter. It’s a studio unit. We can house up to three individuals in the studios,” said Ibarra.

According to Ibarra, the shelter has a structured program where staff works with clients to get them into permanent housing. “It’s very comprehensive. It’s very fast-paced. But we know the best way to end homelessness is to house individuals,” said Ibarra.

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Ka Hale A Ke Ola has 72 units at its Central facility and 48 units at the West side facility. “So we really do have the capacity to work, I think with many of the families and individuals at ‘Āmala Place, and we’re excited about that. And whatever we can do to help get people into shelter, to get them housed–that’s what we’re going to do. That’s what we’re here for,” said Ibarra.

The County of Maui produced video is available for viewing below:

Video Credit: County of Maui
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