Hawaii is set to follow the trend, according to a news item published on August 1 by Miami Newsday. The full report:
“Hawaii is hoping to take the burden off its welfare system by saying aloha to its 17,000 homeless residents.
The state will offer one-way tickets home to any eligible homeless person to anywhere in the continental United States, according to Miami News.
Hawaii has allotted $100,000 for a three year trial run of the so-called ‘return-to-home’ program, which could also even offer participants beds on cruise ships bound for their homes.
The sum set aside for the program may sound like a lot, but supporters say most of the state’s homeless won’t be taking advantage.’
‘It’s fractional,’ state Representative John Mizuno told Hawaii News Now. ‘It’s not for 5,000 homeless people. It’s going to be a handful of homeless people that we send home … to their support unit.’
The goal, supporters say, is to take pressure off the state’s overburdened shelter system.
Representative Rida Cabanilla told Honolulu Civil Beat that her decision to support the program came down to simple math.
Worth it? ‘Return-to-home’ supporters say, even as they spend money on supportive programs and tickets to the mainland, the state will save on shelter, food, and medical costs.
Even if a homeless individual comes back to Hawaii after only months away, Cabanilla said, the state would still have saved thousands on food, shelter, and medical costs.
But with 2,500 miles of Pacific Ocean separating the Aloha State from the mainland, chances are lawmakers are banking on the ‘return-to-home’ aloha to be a permanent one.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t have all the state’s officials lining up behind the program.
‘The administrative requirements…are costly and administratively burdensome,’ spokeswoman Kayla Rosenfeld for the state Department of Human Services, the agency charged with running the program, told MSN News Tuesday.
Good for who? Detractors say it would just be a reshuffling and that the homeless won’t be helped, only pawned off on other jurisdictions.
‘Provisions include: transportation to the airport, orientation regarding airport security and ensuring proper hygiene. Additionally, if state funds were utilized for the purpose of sending people home, the participants would be required to sign voluntary departure agreements that would need to be recorded in databases.’
With so much involved in the program, it’s no surprise that the very agency put in charge of the program has its reservations.
But reservations, on a plane anyway, are exactly what any qualifying homeless person currently residing in Hawaii could soon have.
The voluntary program allows interested individuals who have people willing to support them back at home, who cannot afford to return on their own, and who are indigent to fly home on the state’s dime.
They may not participate more than once.
A similar program was implemented in New York City in 2007 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other cities have used the tactic over the years.
‘These kinds of programs have been used historically to ship homeless people out of town,’ Michael Stoops, from the National Coalition for the Homeless told MSN. ‘In the homelessness field it was once called greyhound therapy. Hawaii now goes a step higher with airplane therapy. Oftentimes local police departments run such programs offering the stark choices of going to a shelter, jail or hopping on a bus or plane home.’”
This story is especially important with controversy raging over Lagos Governor Raji Fashola’s bussing home some Lagos destitute from Anambra state.