WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawai’i — In a significant step towards addressing the challenge of homelessness, Col. Steven McGunegle, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Hawai’i and Col. Charles Green, director, Directorate of Emergency Services, met with Representative Trish La Chica on Wednesday November 8, 2023. The discussions, which continued at the Hawai’i Okinawa Center in Waipio Gentry, centered around the pressing issue of homelessness, particularly the encroachment of homeless encampments on federal property in Hawai’i.
The meeting marked a significant effort to engage with Representative La Chica, the elected leader for the Mililani Mauka area, in addressing the challenges posed by homeless encampments. These discussions were crucial for Army Garrison Hawai’i, as the encroachment of civilian homeless populations onto Army managed lands presents unique challenges.
“We’ve been seeing increasing homeless trespassing at several Army locations on Oahu,” said McGunegle. “This meeting was important step forward to discuss the joint effort with city and state officials required to reach collaborative solutions.”
Representative La Chica, who had firsthand experience observing the operations of homeless sweeps, brought valuable insights to the table. The talks delved into the complexities of the homeless situation in Hawai’i, including the logistical hurdles and the coordination required with various agencies.
A significant part of the discussion revolved around the removal of debris and hazardous waste from these sites. The group acknowledged the financial and logistical challenges associated with homeless encampments as key concerns.
In addition to discussing the current situation and challenges, the meeting also opened up conversations about potential long-term solutions and strategies to address the broader issue of homelessness in Hawai’i. This included exploring various models from other areas of the country that could be adapted to the Hawai’ian context.
Overall, the meeting was a constructive step towards fostering collaboration and finding effective solutions to the challenges of homelessness in Hawai’i. The discussions highlighted a shared commitment to addressing this complex issue and the importance of working together across different levels of government.