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Advocates fear abuse of 'fly home' program

The state initiative pays for plane tickets so that people can return to the mainland

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:29 a.m. HST, Aug 06, 2013

A program that would help fly homeless people in Hawaii back to the mainland is being greeted with skepticism by the state's human services officials and groups that help the homeless.

A provision allowing the state Department of Human Services to coordinate a voluntary "return-to-home" program is included in a new state law. The department said it doesn't have any plans to implement the program at this time, but publicity surrounding it has officials worried nonetheless.

"It's encouraging people on the mainland to take a chance in coming to Hawaii knowing they can be returned," said Marc Alexander, director of community relations and development for the Institute for Human Services, the largest homeless service provider in the state. His organization already helps some people return each year to the mainland.

People are attracted to Hawaii for its pleasant weather and aloha spirit, Alexander said. But they arrive and face the reality that living in paradise is expensive.

He said he has seen people run through their vacation money and wind up "using nonprofit service providers almost like hostels."

The Department of Human Services echoed Alexander's concerns.

"At the end of the day … we remain concerned this program is an invitation to purchase a one-way ticket to Hawaii with a guaranteed return flight home," the agency said in a statement.

Only a small percentage of Hawaii's homeless people are from the mainland, said state Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Downtown-Nuuanu-Liliha), who authored the bill that proposed the program. But they are "very visible," she said, in places frequented by tourists, such as Hono­lulu's Chinatown and Waikiki.

The most recent count of homeless people in the state is about 6,300, Alexander said.

During the 2012 fiscal year, nearly 14,000 people in Hawaii received services through a shelter or outreach program, according to a report by the University of Hawaii's Center on the Family and the Department of Human Services' Homeless Programs Office. Eleven percent of adults who received services were living in Hawaii for a year or less, and 18 percent were in Hawaii more than a year but less than 10 years. Forty-two percent were considered lifetime Hawaii residents.

The program is part of a larger bill comprising several homelessness initiatives, such as one that provides subsidies for homeless people who are working and are ready to rent permanent housing.

State Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D, Ewa Beach-West Loch Estates) said she pushed for the program to be included to help those who have no other means to return home. She said it would be cheaper to help them leave Hawaii than for the state to continue supporting them.

"A lot of them want to go back to the mainland, but they're feeling trapped in the islands," she said. "They can get reunited with their families, and it takes away the burden of Hawaii having to support them."

The proposal included a $100,000 appropriation, which Oakland estimated would buy plane tickets for 100 to 200 people.

Cabanilla said the program wasn't intended to combat homelessness, but rather address "a small percentage of the homeless population."

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MalamaKaAina wrote:
You can hear the homeless laughing all the way from New York!
on August 6,2013 | 03:07AM
Grimbold wrote:
Yep ,not only the homeless are laughing: Some visitors may just buy a one way ticket, then report to be homeless and that they agree to be shipped back. The one not laughing is the taxpayer.
on August 6,2013 | 05:17PM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how to use colons.
on August 7,2013 | 12:26AM
onevoice82 wrote:
I seriously doubt someone, even a homeless, would have the money to come to Hawaii knowing that they have a free trip home and have to live on the streets for several weeks at least before they could "cash in" on the opportunity to fly home. Doesn't make sense. Yes, some who are homeless now may take the opportunity and use the program but the original reason for coming to Hawaii had NOTHING to do with the existence of a free trip back program.
on August 6,2013 | 05:39AM
palani wrote:
Agree. Living on the streets for a few weeks is no vacation.
on August 6,2013 | 05:59AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Indigents coming to Hawai'i with a one-way ticket probably thought they would be greeted, then supported by the Aloha Spirit.
on August 6,2013 | 06:42AM
tiwtsfm wrote:
Require all visitors to Hawaii to have a round trip ticket. This was the case many years ago.
on August 6,2013 | 06:45AM
mrluke wrote:
Excuse me, but since when does someone have to have a round trip ticket to travel from one state to another?!
on August 6,2013 | 07:11AM
hanalei395 wrote:
The way mrluke SOUNDS .....he came here on a one-way ticket.
on August 6,2013 | 07:23AM
mrluke wrote:
And, you're trying to say...?
on August 6,2013 | 11:39AM
localguy wrote:
tiwtsfm - Really? How many years ago was this a requirement? Fact is it wasn't as a round trip ticket can be canceled in a heartbeat. I would like to see anyone using island homeless services prove they are an island resident. If not, reduced services. Let it be known non residents are last on the needs support list. Fair is fair.
on August 6,2013 | 09:06AM
aomohoa wrote:
Good comment.
on August 6,2013 | 09:41AM
AmbienDaze wrote:
yo prince, where is your aloha spirit that you so effusively claim to possess? bring one or more of these "indigents" home with you and demonstrate to all of your aloha. they would fit right in with your hoarder lifestyle.
on August 6,2013 | 09:58PM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how to use capitals. Maybe then your comments might seems a bit less uneducated.
on August 7,2013 | 12:28AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
You miss the context. Many of the homeless from the mainland are sent here by their own families who just want to get them somewhere else. They are told about our generous public benefits and how being homeless here is basically living on the beach in paradise. Many bite on this story and end up here on the streets. Now you add in a free return trip if the homeless person doesn't like Hawaii, you better believe that more homeless will come here. Of course even if they come here and we have a return program they still won't go home, you need a family member, friend or a program to receive the person on his return. Given that the family member sent them over here in the first place what are the chances of them welcoming them back? Dumb program, we need to spend that money to put the word out that Hawaii is NOT a paradise for homeless people.
on August 6,2013 | 06:49AM
pcman wrote:
Anyone who comes here as a tourist and hangs around without any job assurances should be sent to a central holding area like Kalaeloa, in a tent city until they find a job or go home t their own expense. If they are caught elsewhere, outside of Kalaeloa, they should also be fined and charged for a return trip to their home state. Give them some tough love.
on August 6,2013 | 08:02AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Get real
on August 6,2013 | 08:22AM
Mahalo wrote:
Really PCMAN they should be sent to Kalaeloa.. why not send them to Hawaii Kai or Kahala ? Kawamoto has some vacant land...
on August 6,2013 | 11:03AM
96706 wrote:
Kalaeloa is NOT a good idea. I agree with Mahalo ... send them to Hawaii Kai, Kahala. THEY can afford to take care of them. Sorry ... not in OUR backyard. >:/
on August 6,2013 | 12:15PM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how to use commas and ellipsis.
on August 7,2013 | 12:20AM
Mahalo wrote:
Many of the homeless as sent by the STATE they were living in to clean up their homeless problem that has been going on for many documented yeards.
on August 6,2013 | 11:02AM
Slow wrote:
Well stated. Impressive, whatever it means.
on August 6,2013 | 02:36PM
Slow wrote:
I saw an old hippie in Pahoa with a shirt that read: I Make Stuff Up. WawaiiCheese Ball, that wasn't you was it?
on August 6,2013 | 02:34PM
McCully wrote:
First of all, any person not a resident of Hawaii for two years gets NO services. This is true in many states and why not here. People come here knowing they get free services as soon possible and the local people gets nothing. Something has to be done to take care of its island folks and not the mainland transits.
on August 6,2013 | 06:59AM
Wazdat wrote:
AGREE. Why is this state so LAME
on August 6,2013 | 01:29PM
loquaciousone wrote:
I'm actually from Las Vegas. Can I get my ticket now?
on August 6,2013 | 06:59AM
mcc wrote:
Only if you promise not to ever come back.
on August 6,2013 | 07:58AM
hanoz808 wrote:
on August 6,2013 | 04:34PM
Skyler wrote:
...and take allie with you.
on August 6,2013 | 10:55PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Again we need to follow the State of Florida's lead. They initiated law suits again the State of Oregon when that state was caught busing homeless to Florida. Oregon is a prime culprit as we have several homeless from that State which participated in that program.
on August 6,2013 | 07:08AM
Kaleo744 wrote:
And we elected these idiots who comes up with these brilliant ideas....now what makes the homeless that you help in going "home" not to come back for a "vacation, knowing we the people will finance their trip back? This issue was thoroughly thought of....cabanilla how about you give up your 3 month salary you receive from us the tax payers to finance the "homeless travel Agency"/
on August 6,2013 | 07:10AM
ryan02 wrote:
Hawaii needs to set up shelters and rehab centers someplace where the cost of living is cheap - and that isn't Hawaii. We should lease (or even build) shelters and rehab facilities in Arizona or Nevada or someplace cheap like that, and send the homeless THERE for job training, drug rehab, or mental health treatment. If the goal is to eventually have people NOT living on the streets anymore, that goal will not be met as long as they are in Hawaii, it's just too expensive here.
on August 6,2013 | 07:12AM
96706 wrote:
Put them on a barge and set it out on the open seas!
on August 6,2013 | 12:17PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
No doubt this will work as well as the current plan of rousting the homeless from parks so that they can return to the parks the next day. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's only tax money.
on August 6,2013 | 07:23AM
Rickyboy wrote:
Let the legislators donate their personal funds to support this idea. Put their money where their mouths are.
on August 6,2013 | 07:56AM
Mike174 wrote:
The airlines have figured out that they can charge you as much for a one way ticket as a round trip so no, the potential homeless are not buying one way tickets to Hawaii.
on August 6,2013 | 08:00AM
whatzupwitdat wrote:
What a DUMB idea! I agree with Ricky Boy; have Oakland and the other legislators who think this is a GOOD idea to open up THEIR pocketbooks! Problem solved! This was already on CNN the other day!
on August 6,2013 | 08:10AM
There is a solution but no one has the heart to do it. Like every problem in the world today, it is all about money. The homeless could not survive if we didn't fund them. They are given money for rent but use it for drugs. They are give money to be used for food only and they find someone to buy it for 50 cents on the dollar, while they get their food from the food bank or soup line. Being homeless begins with drugs and other short coming and continues because we fund it. All homeless people in Hawaii are eligible for financial, medical and food assistance unless they have been previously disqualified for intentional violations of the polices of these programs. Also, lots of them have disabilities (from drug use) and get either Social Security Disability or in cases where they have less than 10 years of employment SSI benefits. Why if were paying their way can't we set the rules and require they be followed or else the funds stop?
on August 6,2013 | 08:38AM
Slow wrote:
Mainland homeless in Hawaii is not the problem. Read the numbers. The homeless are overwhelmingly local folks. This proposal is cynical and panders to the vocal locals (like that ?) who think THEY are not US. Ever drive out to Yokohama Bay? Those folks there sure don't look or sound like they came from Colorado.
on August 6,2013 | 08:40AM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Yokohama Bay"? ..... You can't "drive" to Japan, but you can to Keawa'ula Beach.
on August 6,2013 | 09:11AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Just go down Kam Highway.
on August 6,2013 | 11:45AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Go down and stay down. Wrong highway.
on August 6,2013 | 12:18PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Yup, Farrington! However,it is too bad most locals don't know the correct names to these beaches. Hopefully, with more correct usage there will be a time when all points will identified correctly.
on August 6,2013 | 12:49PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Hehehe....Braddah Hanalei395 is getting much better about not taking the bait.....
on August 6,2013 | 01:40PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Much better"? ... Actually, I was always better. But, you're not getting better. You still think that other highway is named after a Chinese guy.
on August 6,2013 | 03:01PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Too easy....hehehe....
on August 6,2013 | 05:38PM
hanalei395 wrote:
That's right ...you are.
on August 6,2013 | 06:19PM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how to use ellipsis.
on August 7,2013 | 12:22AM
juscasting wrote:
Homeless on the way to Yoks Mr. SLOW driver? Braddah bull, when da last time you was out on the WestSide? They all stay at the Waianae Boat harbor now.
on August 6,2013 | 12:23PM
Slow wrote:
Valid point, juscasting. Haven't been out there in a couple of years. My point is the westside homeless families I saw are not from the mainland. Sending mainland homeless back to the mainland sounds like political grandstanding. You saying the Waianae Boat Harbor homeless are not local? Or what is your point?
on August 6,2013 | 02:31PM
Slow wrote:
Gee hanalei1395, is that a joke? Or a criticism of calling Yokohama Bay Yokohama Bay? If it is the latter, then you are a silly person. We are not reverting to all Hawaiian names. Nice idea but Diamond Head will never be known as Leahi. Flat Island in Kailua will never be popularly known as Popo'ia (except by Kailua's self-appointed Hawaiian, Eric "Pigeon Man" Poohina). Do you refer to Sunset Beach as Paumalu? The government tried to rename Sand Island Anuenue. How'd that work? The cat is out of the bag. I mean the popoki is out of the bag.
on August 6,2013 | 02:21PM
MakaniKai wrote:
LOL Slow ;-) don't forget Chinaman's Hat - Mokoliʻi
on August 6,2013 | 03:42PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Slow", a great name for you, because you don't, can't get it. ... But at least, you got one name correct, when you named yourself Slow.
on August 6,2013 | 03:54PM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how to use commas and ellipsis.
on August 7,2013 | 12:18AM
AmbienDaze wrote:
whoa??? what just happened??? i thought you called it "pray for sex beach"??? you just googled it, right???
on August 6,2013 | 04:43PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Slow, ...... my stalker, Daze, who follows me around, and who also prays for sex, wants to know the original Hawaiian name for what is now known, as she says, "Pray for Sex Beach". Please help her out.
on August 6,2013 | 05:58PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
kind of hard to keep up with all your lies, isn't it? one lie to cover another lie and then another?
just stick with the truth, then no problems.
i think you are are either a pathological liar or someone with a bi-polar problem. but it really sounds to me like you suffer from histrionic personality disorder.>br> go seek some help, it's out there.
on August 6,2013 | 10:12PM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how to use capitals.
on August 7,2013 | 12:30AM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how to use commas and ellipsis.
on August 7,2013 | 12:18AM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how to use capitals and question marks.
on August 7,2013 | 12:30AM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how ellipsis.
on August 7,2013 | 12:21AM
2bworker wrote:
I read a couple of weeks ago a family from Micronesia came here and stayed with relatives, but, due to overcrowding in the house, they ended up on the street. Those were probably oneway ticket they bought. I'm sure the family intentions were all good, until some beef happended. This is just another program solution to address homeless. It is not the silver bullet to solving it, but it should not be to encourage it either- like rewarding bad behavior.
on August 6,2013 | 09:15AM
cojef wrote:
Appears there is no accurate count of the homeless population as they are in state of constantly moving. Also how do you classify a mainlander from the locals. Someone mentioned that the State of Oregon has an established official program to transport homeless to various location in the US and Hawaii and probably Alaska. Don't know why a legal resident from Alaska would it as citizen of that State receive an annual stpipend from the State based on the amount funds paid into the state by the oil extraction companies. Of the course the extremely cold climes to drive any warm blooded individual scurring out of there. The proposed program to pay for the transportation cost one-way will not work and ill-conceived. C'mon where are tthe social justice people up in arms about violating the civil rights of the homeless. Did the legislators consider this issue? The homeless, aside from their lot, have civil rights equal to anyone else. Than it begs the question, can you or will you be able to obtain their consent or agree to the one-way ticket. Wonder what % of the homeless would agree to return to whence they came?
on August 6,2013 | 09:57AM
cojef wrote:
OOPs my post did not pass muster for length and issues not agreeable to censor and was sent for approval. My big issue is, what about the civil rights of these individuals? Can the homeless be uprooted and force to change their life-style, yes repatriated to their State of origin or last know place of residence. How wll the States unknowingly involved perceive this plan or program??
on August 6,2013 | 10:04AM
McB0B wrote:
Bring back vagrancy laws.
on August 6,2013 | 11:51AM
96706 wrote:
Hey listen up all you "advocates" give this PILOT PROJECT a chance to prove itself first and THEN judge it! But if you "advocates" have better solutions, then DO IT instead of complaining!!
on August 6,2013 | 12:13PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Yup do something
on August 6,2013 | 12:50PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
How many times does it have to fail before we conclude it is a failure? So far, I count 3x already where the crews came in, took stuff, cleaned up and then the tents were back in 24 hours or less. Smells like failure to me.
on August 6,2013 | 01:42PM
Jonas wrote:
Kahoolawe is available, let's send them there! Please don't take that seriously.
on August 6,2013 | 12:52PM
busterb wrote:
Before they leave, tattoo Babooze on their forehead. They you know when they return.
on August 6,2013 | 01:44PM
MightyMakiki wrote:
Don't do it...
on August 6,2013 | 03:22PM
nitpikker wrote:
if i recall correctly, in past interviews with some homeless, they were brought in to work by mainland companies that later went belly up. so workers without funds to return to the mainland ended up homeless. they should require companies bringing in workers to fund an escrow account to be sure laid-off workers can get back to their home state rather than be abandoned here. in other words...if they bring 'em in, they take 'em back.
on August 6,2013 | 04:13PM
lynnh wrote:
Learn how to use Capital letters and ellipsis.
on August 7,2013 | 12:24AM
McB0B wrote:
You don't recall correctly. Most of them had essentially the same lifestyle before they decided to take it to paradise. The ones with a work history either find jobs here or go back to their old ones.
on August 9,2013 | 02:22AM
lynnh wrote:
A radio commenter from the mainland said it right "democrats claim to care and want to help people in need and the homeless. Now look at the democratic controlled state of Hawaii. All they care about is getting rid of the homeless by sending them out of state."
on August 6,2013 | 07:28PM
whatzupwitdat wrote:
@busterb: your comment takes the prize for the day! I LOVE IT!!!
on August 6,2013 | 08:11PM
Skyler wrote:
How shame. This even made the national news. Silly Rida. Just pay for a ticket out of your own pocket & leave Hawaii out of it.
on August 6,2013 | 10:54PM
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