Maui Beach Prepares for Homeless Sweep

May 22, 2017

Baldwin Beach
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Baldwin Beach Park stretches for more than 17 acres along the north shore of Maui, just outside of Paia. It's got a soccer field, a softball field, and even a cricket pitch. It's also got a significant homeless population. Tomorrow, county officials will conduct a sweep of the area. We get more on the story from Colleen Uechi of The Maui News.

At Baldwin Beach Park, more than 100 homeless live in tents spread out beneath the ironwoods and along the shoreline of Paia Bay. But on Tuesday, they'll have to leave.

Three weeks ago, the county posted a notice to vacate following a year of complaints over trash, drugs and disturbances from the growing homeless population.

The county says it's now a health and safety issue.

But the homeless say sweeping the beach will simply move the problem elsewhere.

Sitting inside her tent with a mattress and a portable cooking stove, Cindy Gomes of Pukalani says she can't get a job because of a bad back.

A man from Colorado says he's on a fixed income and chooses to live at the beach so he can have money left over.

County officials say the situation at Baldwin Park is different from most similar scenes on Maui.

According to the Department of Housing and Human Concerns, in the state 90 percent of the population are travelers from the Mainland.

County Homeless coordinator David Nakama says many of them are able-bodied and could work if they wanted to.

In recent weeks, social service agencies have encouraged people to move to shelters before Tuesday's sweep, but many of the homeless still remain on the beach.