WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 01, 2014, 03:14 PM

Some homeless Hawaiians taking to the trees (w/ video)

Honolulu, HI (CNN) - Some of Hawaii’s homeless are moving off the streets and into tree houses.

By: Lisa Kubota, CNN

Honolulu, HI (CNN) - Some of Hawaii’s homeless are moving off the streets and into tree houses.

Tobias Debardeleben built his new home in just three days. He's living with a friend in this tree house, along the H-1, outside Foster Botanical Garden.

Tobias Debardeleben - Lives in Tree House: "They're making it impossible on the streets for anyone. They're kicking everyone off. You can't use bathrooms. You can't get electricity. They're giving fines out for everything."

The 47-year-old says he suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He told us he's been homeless for about a year after spending time in prison for theft.

Tobias Debardeleben: "It was drugs and being stupid. It was my fault and I went to jail and when I got out it was a bad situation where I just found myself broke."

Another home is tucked away in a tree right along busy Nimitz Highway. Someone built a structure about 30 feet off the ground, despite warning signs about trespassing.

Connie Mitchell - The Institute for Human Services: "I think that people are looking for a safe place for themselves where they won't be in other people's way but also they'll have their own space."

Debardeleben says he eats meals at the Institute for Human Services, but no longer stays at the shelter. He's tired of moving around and is ready for a permanent home.

Tobias Debardeleben: "They're making it almost against the law to be homeless. That's why I'm getting a place next week ‘cause I got Social Security and they're giving me money, first and last month's to move into a place."

Connie Mitchell: "Congregate living, it's not for everyone. If you are afflicted with something that kind of makes you irritable, when you're around a lot of people, it's just really not easy."

The Department of Transportation is waiting for confirmation, but believes both tree houses are on state land. It is illegal to build anything within the DOT right-of-way without a permit.

Tobias Debardeleben: "There's a lot of people living under the bridges and stuff. I don't like going under. I'd rather go up. It's nice up there. You're away from everything."

But he knows it's just a matter of time until he's on the move again.