Homeless Pushed Out of Old Airport as County Aims to Improve Facility

The County of Hawai’i will enforce a no-camping policy at the Old Airport Park in Kona beginning Aug. 2.

County officials say that all belongings and housing structures in the park must be removed by that date.

“This is aimed at improving this facility as a community park,” read a release from the mayor’s office.

Homeless people camping at the park are being instructed to leave, and a limited number of spaces at homeless shelters are available to receive them.

In the meantime, Outreach workers from HOPE Services, Veterans Outreach, the West Hawai’i Health Clinic, Access Capabilities, County Parks and Recreation, Office of Housing and Community Development, the Mayor’s Office (Kona), and faith-based volunteers, have been reaching out to the people living in the park.

HOPE Services is coordinating existing housing inventory, and available housing options are being offered to the most vulnerable homeless people first, i.e., families, the elderly, chronically homeless, as well as those with substance abuse or mental health issues.

“HOPE Services is doing their very best to house those who qualify in the short time we have before August 2,” said Assistant Housing Administrator Lance Niimi, who asked that the public notify his office if other housing options may be made immediately available for the homeless. “Every bed space helps.

According to the county this is a comprehensive effort involving the community, State and County government, service organizations, businesses and volunteers, to make this a better place.

The Mayor’s Office is currently in negotiations for a possible alternative site for the homeless in the vicinity, which could become available by the end of the year.

The Hawai`i Police Department will be monitoring to ensure that campers do not return to the park. The enforcement takes place as the Department of Parks and Recreation gears up for clean-up efforts on Wednesday, August 9 and Thursday, August 10.