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State has no plans to fly homeless back to mainland

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 3:25 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2013

Hawaii’s human services officials and groups that help the homeless are skeptical about a program that would help fly homeless people back to the mainland.

A new state law includes a provision allowing the state Department of Human Services to coordinate a voluntary “return-to-home” program that would seek help from airlines, cruise lines, charter companies, homeless programs, travel agencies and the visitor industry.

The department doesn’t have any plans to implement the program at this time. Still, officials worry the national and international publicity about the effort will inspire folks to become homeless in sunny Hawaii, knowing they’ll have a guaranteed ticket back to where they came from.

Marc Alexander of the Institute for Human Services says a state-funded fly-home program comes with too many unintended consequences.

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