Maui County continues its practice of “Clean Up’s” using the Notice to Vacate practice which dismantles structures and tents on County land. About six years ago I spoke up in one of the first planning meetings which garnered over 20 different agencies and county supervisors.The question which I begged years ago, where can people go when this happens? The standard reply was, “they don’t want help.” This has not been my personal findings at all.

To find out more regarding this upcoming “sweep” from the point of view of those being displaced, I’ve been going down to Baldwin Beach Park to try to capture data which might lead to insights on how to actually help individuals move out of this lifestyle (almost none by choice) and into safe, dependable living solutions. What individuals tell me is quite contrary from what I hear from our county leadership and local agencies. Join me in meeting some individuals who generously shared their stories. Many have addiction and mental health issues which require, yes, require them to be close to nature and many to their pets who love unconditionally. Others have too little income from part-time employment for rentals and are working and living out of cars. Others struggle with the cost of a bus passes, $45/mo) and clean clothes so employment becomes a very challenging hardship. Imagine you find work but have to carry all of your belongings because if you leave them in your tent they will be gone when you return. Some have records which is a major obstacle to employment, and others have bad credit.

"Need Work?"

Under the column on my survey “Need Work?” every single person marked yes, or yes, definitely. Under Need Help? All wrote “yes, yes, please or it sure would be nice…”

Maui County needs a few courageous individuals to evolve and recognize building more standardized shelters is not the full answer. We need to create small communities that are unique and create ownership among those living there. We need to have individuals who will live there be on the design team and share their observations. We need to listen to this group who is often traumatized, really listen. We need this now.

These individuals drive me to the furthest reaches of every dark corner…the knowing that even the littlest ray of light brings a smile and fills the cup of hope.

With deep appreciation,
Lisa Darcy
May 13, 2017