Senate passes bill to connect isle’s homeless with day jobs | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

Senate passes bill to connect isle’s homeless with day jobs

Hawaii is looking for solutions to its homelessness crisis, and lawmakers are considering a program to help connect homeless people with day jobs.

They’re modeling the three-year program after a similar approach in Albuquerque, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz. Lunch and a ride to a shelter at the end of the workday also would be provided to participants, according to a bill passed by the state Senate on Tuesday.

“With the rate of growth in our homeless population, it really makes sense to get folks an additional opportunity and get them connected with service providers in the city and state,” said state Rep. Chris Lee (D, Kailua-Lanikai- Waimanalo), who introduced the bill.

Lee decided to introduce the bill after visiting New Mexico and witnessing the program.

“Other places have had great success with roadside cleanup, taking care of graffiti, cleaning up homeless encampments, all kinds of things,” Lee said. “There’s no shortage of that kind of work here in Hawaii, and in particular in Honolulu.”

Many homeless people don’t have Internet access or cars, so the program could help them surmount those challenges, said The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii in testimony supporting the bill. The program would begin on Oahu, and it would be run by the City and County of Honolulu.

Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the nation. According to the latest count, there were 7,620 homeless people statewide, with about 4,900 living on Oahu, and half of them were unsheltered.

“We’ve only seen it get worse over time, and I’m glad were talking about different solutions,” said state Rep. Beth Fukumoto-Chang (R, Mililani-Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres), who co-introduced the bill. “It’s a creative way to address the problem, and obviously it’s not going to take care of everything, but it will take care of a small piece.”

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  • The kind of work mentioned in the story – roadside cleanup, taking care of graffiti, cleaning up homeless encampments, all kinds of things – are the “all kinds of things” which current city employees or contractors are supposed to be doing. Why must we incur additional expense to pay homeless to do the same work?

  • Details, please, details. From where will the money come to pay the homeless? Will the homeless be working for private businesses or for the government? If for the government, wouldn’t that make them government employees and entitle them to government benefits in addition to their hourly pay? If homeless people who participate in this work program are receiving welfare for not working, will their welfare payments be adjusted accordingly? It is worth nothing that Hawaii leads the nation as the state with the highest welfare payouts of more the $29 an hour. It will be a tough sell to get a homeless person on welfare to work for a day to make less than $29 an hour.

  • There’s already city jobs that do those things. why not just give the city more funds for parks clean up, etc, on the condition they hire the homeless?

  • Good luck in trying to get these people gainful employment as a good number of them have some type of mental and physical disabilities and aren’t motivated to work and expect some type of handout instead……..

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