Quantcast
  

Thursday, April 17, 2014         

OUR VIEW: ALOHA THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE


 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Airfare for homeless has merit


POSTED:



Part of hospitality—a part that's not usually discussed—is knowing where to draw the line. Hosts show no kindness to their guests by pretending they can provide the comforts of home when they simply can't. The real service would be to help needy people settle where help and support are in place for them.

While mainland transplants represent only a small part of the homeless population, it's mystifying why two legislators' proposal to buy airfare to the mainland for qualifying Hawaii homeless should draw a harsh response.

Specifically, officials from Seattle recently expressed disbelief upon learning that state Reps. John Mizuno and Rida Cabanilla favor providing tickets to homeless people with mainland connections who can take them in. Mizuno started a mini-drive seeking airfare to reunite Seattle resident Gregory Reese with his family, including his ailing father.

The community's role, the critics say, is to help the homeless secure housing and financial solvency, not to foist them off on another community.

They're right that airfare handouts won't solve the core problems. But it's a right-sized project for private nonprofits and others who can help with what, for some, is a very real problem. Already, in the past week, Aiea hairdresser Denise Sakai stepped up to donate the entire $299 plane fare for Reese, who became homeless after job prospects here fell through.

People often come to Hawaii either with expectations that the subtropical climate and the social services safety net will cushion their landing, or with promises of employment. When either or both prove nonexistent, it can be too late to reverse course.

Anyone wanting to relocate faces travel expenses much higher than someone moving within the 48 contiguous states. The cost stands as a barrier between a homeless person and accommodations with family or friends; removing this single hurdle for them would provide a real boost in their efforts to get back on their feet financially.

Mizuno and Cabanilla originally backed a publicly funded pilot program setting aside $100,000 to provide airfare for those who can show that they have connections for housing at their destination. Using tax revenues for this purpose would be a mistake, creating a new entitlement that the state would be hard-pressed to sustain.

It would be better for the private sector—preferably a coalition of nonprofits, churches and community groups tapping private donations—to manage a project like this. The rules should be fairly stringent, giving preference to applicants who not only have a line on housing in a mainland city but prospects for employment as well.

And it should create a database of participants to flag anyone trying to game the system by flying back and forth.

Meanwhile, government can put its focus where it belongs: finding a more comprehensive set of solutions to homelessness. An airfare fund won't erase problems for the homeless, but something as basic as a one-way ticket to a safe haven may provide exactly what some need to get their bearings again.






 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(0)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
IN OTHER NEWS
Latest News/Updates