April 7, 2020
Hawaii island police conducted a sweep of illegal structures and squatters from a lot today in Hilo.
Police said about a dozen people and various structures were removed from a lot behind Agasa Furniture, beginning at 6:30 a.m. The sweep was conducted after court proceedings on Monday granted the county permission to proceed. The court motion included the appointment of a commissioner to oversee the legal proceedings moving forward, police said.
Hope Services offered alternative housing and assistance for people removed from the property. About four people took advantage of the services, while the remaining people declined the housing services.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidance related to homeless encampments during the coronavirus outbreak. The CDC suggested that officials do not clear encampments unless individual housing units are available to prevent displaced people from dispersing into the community and spreading the virus. Police did not say how many housing units were available before today’s sweep.
The operation was completed at noon, the lot was cleared, and “No Trespassing” signs were placed on the property to prevent further activity. Other county and state agencies assisted police in clearing the lot.
Police said the action was taken in response to community complaints about the property, which resulted in a similar operation about a year ago because of illegal structures on the property.