Hawaii lawmakers kill bill to fly homeless back to mainland
Top News

Hawaii lawmakers kill bill to fly homeless back to mainland

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Homeless campers returned to the Kakaako area, along Ohe St. near the Children’s Discovery Center, after a sweep by the state and city, as seen on Jan. 8. State lawmakers are considering funding a program that would fly homeless people back to the mainland.

A House committee on Tuesday shelved a proposal to fly homeless people back to the mainland, representing the fourth consecutive year the idea has died in the state Legislature.

Between October 2014 and November 2015, the Institute for Human Services teamed up with the Waikiki tourism industry to fly 133 homeless people back to their homes on the mainland at a cost of $28,374, IHS spokesman Kimo Carvalho told the House Human Services Committee.

“I’d say that’s a pretty good return on investment,” Carvalho said. Flying homeless people with mainland roots back home also frees up shelter space for local homeless people, he said. Hawaii has the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation.

Before leaving the islands, the homeless client first works with social workers to develop a plan to be successful on the mainland. The client must have someone back home to house them, and cannot have pending legal or military issues in Hawaii, Carvalho said.

“To date, no reported individual (sent to the mainland) has returned,” Carvalho told lawmakers. “The demand for this program is statewide — on every island.”

No specific dollar amount was requested to create the so-called “Return-To-Home” pilot program, which would have been funded by the state and run by the Department of Human Services.

DHS opposed creating the pilot program, as did the state’s homeless coordinator, Scott Morishige.

Morishige told the committee that IHS and Waikiki tourism officials have shown they can run an effective program through private funding.

State money, Morishige said, would be better focused on programs that are proven to reduce homelessness, such as Housing First — which places homeless people in rental units while providing them with programs and social workers; and so-called “rapid re-housing” that provides one-time rental assistance to people and families who need financial assistance to get into a home.

In written testimony, Morishige told the committee that “an unintended consequence of this measure may be that other homeless individuals will perceive this program as an invitation to come to Hawaii and receive homeless services here with an expectation that they will receive a ‘free’ return trip.” Also, he said, “Because this service is currently available through the private sector, the establishment of a new government-sponsored program may result in duplication of effort and inefficiencies in program implementation.”

Following the committee hearing, Carvalho told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he was frustrated that state officials won’t spend money to send more homeless people back to the mainland.

“This is a housing solution that works,” Carvalho said. “It tells me that despite all our efforts to shine a light on these problems, it’s not being taken seriously and it’s business as usual.”

Comments (70)

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. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

  • Not gonna get into the issue of mainland States sending their homeless here yet the fact remains there’s a lot of mainland homeless here. Just walk around downtown Honolulu near Fort St. Mall. The “new” Wal-Mart is a homeless magnet. I’ve seen so many walking around downtown with a rolling suitcase and a flower lei around their neck.

        • My response to the above is in moderation. Nowhere did I use the “h” word in my post nor did I infer that the mainland homeless that I see downtown are males.

          When I see a “person” who’s grungy, smells like major B.O., and has on a flower lei and looks like they just got off the plane I presume they’re from the mainland as I don’t think a foreigner who can afford the airfare would be homeless.

  • Where there is smoke there is fire, like they say. Without a doubt, there are states that do send people here in order to get rid of them but probably most are here based on
    a decision they made to come here on their own dime due to the weather and because of the relatively generous welfare aid and benefits which our state provides versus some other
    states who are less generous in the kind of welfare benefits they provide.
    The legislature needs to look into this issue and see what can be done to lessen the incentive for people like this to come here. Once the word gets out that Hawaii is not the
    place to fly to if you want to freeload on the state, less of these people will come here.
    The reality is that there is now a permanent class of people who live off the government and the charity of others who see it as an okay way to live.

    • Please see: “Subjective Validation, Confirmation Bias, and Availability Cascade.” before using terms like: “Where there is smoke there is fire, like they say. Without a doubt…”

      • Yes but did they say a government agency purchased their ticket? Here is what we do know. Some homeless come out here on tickets paid by family and friends. The tickets are purchased for varying reasons, some families want to get the person out of their lives so they offer them a free trip to paradise. Others want to help their friend get a fresh start. But for what ever reason many want to go home. They find that being homeless in Hawaii is not that great. IHS has been sending them home on their own dime, why the state would not want to pitch in is beyond me.

  • Hawaii Legislature is not considering funding the service provider to continue the effort in places other than Waikiki, it is considering a State-run program. This is a major mistake. We don’t want other States dumping homeless on Hawaii. Instead, fund a campaign to solicit private donations on Oahu.

  • Start sending them back already. Its going to get worse because construction companies are bringing in trailer trash to work here and lots of those end up homeless too.

  • this is what happens when lawmakers make their own laws and don’t understand the consequences they have after the fact, I always thought that when you arrive in Hawaii you have to fill out the questionnaire before you land and report where you will be staying and for how long, if they cannot answer or fill out their forms they should be detained and later sent back the same day, what are we saying as a vacation spot In the middle of the Pacific that as soon as they get off their plane the visitors arrive all they see is homeless people as far as the eyes can see from the airport though Ala Moana and Waikiki, it sorts of put a black eye on our state when we try to promote Hawaii as a vacation paradise and all the visitors see is homeless people right outside their hotel balcony on the Beach they spent their hard earned money to get here, I wouldn’t be surprised if they never come back again.

        • How about a restriction on giving welfare-type aid to out-of-state “visitors”? I returned a homeless persons’s wallet to downtown River of Life about two months ago – active Massachusetts ID, Hawaii EBT and Medicaid cards and $250 cash. How the heck did he qualify for Hawaii welfare benefits?

        • Thanks Keolu, I assumed you only could apply for benefits in your state of residence. Otherwise, you may be able to collect benefits from multiple states at the same time or “warm” states (like us) could be unduly burdened by homeless from other states during the winter months.

    • It’s really hard to believe that an adult could write anything so ridiculous. This is the United States – travel between people cannot be controlled as you suggest. You are clumsily referring to a voluntary tourism questionnaire. What a pathetic comment.

      • On the contrary, there are several ways travel of US citizens between states can be restricted: Bail or bond restrictions, probationary restrictions, “no fly” travel restrictions, medical quarantine, etc.

        This response is assuming that you mean “travel between STATES cannot be controlled…” not “travel between people…”. In the prior sentence, you wrote that “it’s hard to believe that an adult could write anything so ridiculous.” What’s more ridiculous, the post you were responding to or the written statement that “travel between people cannot be controlled”?

        The comment you called pathetic was a proposed solution to the Hawaii homeless epidemic. Perhaps what could be considered more pathetic are individuals that disparage others’ creative problem-solving attempts while making no effort to do so themselves.

        • It was apparent to any reasonable adult that the intended sentence was “travel between states cannot be controlled…”.
          The proposed solution you are supporting which would deny entry into the state by any person deemed ‘undesirable’ would be laughable if it were presented as a joke.
          Seriously, who would be responsible for determining who is allowed entry vs who is not allowed entry?
          On second thought, could you get wife barred next time she comes ‘tries’ to return home from Vegas??

  • legislators, you got it wrong again. “might see it as a free vacation” maybe but like you are saying we have limited resources and we are paying subsidies on a monthly basis that is costing the taxpayers a lot more than a airline ticket. Medical, food stamps, financial aid etc..

    • Yes, that was an idiotic statement from Morikawa. If someone is willing to sleep on the street and be homeless for a while just so they can get a free one-way ticket to the mainland, those same people would be perfectly willing to sleep on the streets for a while to get a free permanent house in Hawaii, which alternative that our !diot lawmakers apparently prefer. What I suspect is that contractors and construction firms, unions, so-called non-profits, and other people with financial interests in keeping the homeless in Hawaii are donating to our politicians campaign money, or giving friends of the politicians jobs, so keep the homeless business alive and well in Hawaii. This is NOT about relocating the homeless to a place where the cost of living is lower and they may have a real shot at self-sufficiency; this IS about reallocating public tax dollars to contractors, unions, and non-profits to keep the cash cow in the milking barn.

    • Yes, that was an !diotic statement from Morikawa. If someone is willing to sleep on the street and be homeless for a while just so they can get a free one-way ticket to the mainland, those same people would be perfectly willing to sleep on the streets for a while to get a free permanent house in Hawaii, which alternative that our !diot lawmakers apparently prefer. What I suspect is that contractors and construction firms, unions, so-called non-profits, and other people with financial interests in keeping the homeless in Hawaii are donating to our politicians campaign money, or giving friends of the politicians jobs, so keep the homeless business alive and well in Hawaii. This is NOT about relocating the homeless to a place where the cost of living is lower and they may have a real shot at self-sufficiency; this IS about reallocating public tax dollars to contractors, unions, and non-profits to keep the cash cow in the milking barn.

    • We already make the “donation” in the form of taxes, now all we need is for our lawmakers to pass this “donation” on to the proper agency to get these mainland homeless back “home”

  • If they think people will come here on a vacation knowing they have a free trip back then they must live on the streets for 3 months at least to qualify for a trip back. Then send them back. People might think twice about living on the streets for 3 months.

  • Suggestion: When writing about legislation of any kind, including the BILL NUMBER is critical to the story. What Bill was ‘killed’? Who introduced it? In which Legislative Body was it introduced? Did anyone testify and if so, was the bill heard? Or, was it buried without a hearing? All the above is basic; evidently it slipped by reporters and editors.

    • Rep. Mizuno represents Kalihi. Waianae and Kalihi are the neighborhoods most burdened, because regardless of where the homeless are now, Waianae and Kalihi will become the dumping grounds when the state and city relocates them. It’s easy for reps from other districts to say this bill isn’t necessary. I.H.S. and other private groups testified in favor of the bill; Gov. Ige’s administration (his director of human services, and his special “Homeless Taskforce”) testified AGAINST the bill. So it wasn’t just Morikawa who is not representing Hawaii’s interests, it is Gov. Ige too.

  • “send homeless people who aren’t from Hawaii back to the states where they have support systems” – have the homeless contact their “support system” for airfare. Otherwise, they just have to become a lifetime bum living on the streets and eating from dumpsters. Hawaii taxpayers are NOT going to pay their way anymore.

  • But Rep. Dee Morikawa, Chairwoman of the House Human Services Committee, stopped the bill from advancing, saying she wants to be very careful with how the state spends its limited money. Lets face it it cost more to keep them here so her argument is invalid. Most of the homeless should be in mental institutions which Hawaii is also ranked last in. If you register the homeless and assess all aspects one will find various solutions must be applied. If they came here on a one way ticket just because Hawaii has not only better weather but better benefits for the homeless then send them back and charge the state where they came from. If they need to be in mental institutions then please put them there. If your an avid reader of this section on the Homeless its pathetic on how Hawaii is addressing it and the lack of any plans means it will take longer to deal with the homeless than it will to finish the rail. The situation will get much worse. Remember to vote next time when the elections are held. Hawaii also ranks last in voter turnout.

    • Rep. Morikawa should have heard the Bill and least got the feedback necessary to make a responsible decision. It is apparent that using her own logic was not the correct decision. Lots of residents have lots of smarts.

  • Lawmakers kill a bill that would send homeless back to the mainland. They are cautious because of the limited funding they have to work with. If we took the cost of rail some 6 billion dollars, and divided that by 250 the average cost of a 1 way ticket to the mainalnd. We could send 2.4 million homeless people back to the mainland. Staggering isn’t it!

    • What’s even more astounding: 28K to send all those “homeless’ back. If we got the DSSH, and support figures, I bet the Gov will say that they spend probably $28 AND more each! for the same homeless. Thats >$3,400,000 !!
      Can you say STUPID

  • ALL THE SENTORS ARE TO SOFT .. WHY KEEP THE HOMELESS HERE WHEN TAXPAYERS MONIES END UP CARING FOR THEM AS LONG AS THERE HERE .. AND THERE IS NO SOLUTION TO HOUSE THE HOMELESS ON A PERNAMENT BASIS .. WE HAVE CLOSE
    SCHOOLS EMPTYED MODIFY THEM FOR THE HOMELESS .THERE IS TOO MUCH TAKING AND NOT ENOUGH DOING ..LAST RECOURSE
    SWEND THEM WHERE THERE FROM WE ARE NOT HERE FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE TAKE FREE LIFE TIME VACATION …

  • How about we screen people that are coming into Hawaii that they must have a place to live from where they are coming from and what is the purpose of such travel. Isn’t that what they do for Visa’s. I know some Asia countries are not allow American’s Visa’s if they can’t show that they have bank accounts and residency at their native country.

  • The picture says it all. The insane scandal is that there lives a man with his tent and laundry hung between trees in our park and is not immediately removed. That’s why homelessness is increasing: We allow such behavior.

  • Yes we don’t want to send them home as a solution because then we can’t BS the people so that Developers and unions get rich building apts(2 2$250K+) for the “homeless.No unions or developers= no kickbacks.
    We could solve the shelter problem tomorrow if wanted to; How?
    1) enforce vagrancy laws daily
    2) Use State land(like Sand Island
    3) ask for or buy(at ~5K each from FEMA house trailers
    4) pay for water and bathroom links
    5)pay for security patrols of the camp to protect the old,women and children
    No Unions, No developers, No re-zoning No kickbacks and no corruption

  • Appears the State Legislature did not put much thought and analysis into this (what else is new?). Even if the homeless wanted to come here temporary for vacation, what is the likelyhood that they have the funds for airfare and other expenses? Sending homeless that want to go back seems like one of many viable options that should be left open.

  • Arrest for loitering. Check fingerprints to see where last legitimate residence. If not from here, send’m back where the last residence was. Take care and spend the energy on ones with last known local residence.

Scroll Up