They’ve built a little village in the bushes along an often overlooked stretch of West Oahu coastline.
Kalani thought he could just walk into The Harbor and find a place to pitch his tent. The first rule of this extraordinary homeless community is that there are rules. Rose Loke Chung-Lono, one of several women who have taken it upon themselves to create a sense of structure in the camp, was easy to find.
If titles were given in The Harbor, Twinkle Borge would be the governor, Loke says. “That would kind of make me the mayor.” As Hawaii struggles to find solutions for its growing homeless population, more than 200 people have come up with an answer of their own.
That they are there without permission is not lost on the people who have made The Harbor their home. Her boyfriend doesn’t like to let people inside the tent area though.
But sweeping The Harbor without real alternatives in place for its residents would be a mistake, argues Aila, their former landlord of sorts. During a summer storm Loke awoke to a stream of water falling on her face.
The woods were more crowded than he remembered from when he used to cut through the brush on his way home from class.
Dozens of eyes watched him from behind darkened screens in shelters cobbled together from wood pallets and blue tarps. “Go see Auntie Twinkle or Auntie Loke,” a man riding past on a bicycle told him.
Several roosters roam near the entrance to the camp. Big brown puddles in the center of the main path to “Twinkle’s Hale.” Mud everywhere.
Orange mud that covers the wheels of cars and splatters up the back of your leg with every smack of a flip flop against your heel.
David Ige said the state would shift its focus to other towns on Oahu, including Waianae.