If I had to choose one place to be homeless, it would definitely have to be Hawaii and that’s only because of the year round warm climate. In April, I took a last minute vacation to Hawaii with a girlfriend and after a short walk around our hotel area, we noticed the large homeless population. At first we were shocked, but then after noticing the cost of living in Hawaii, we couldn’t understand how people could afford to live on the island.
In an attempt to rid Hawaii of its homeless issue, lawmakers in the state have come up with a novel idea.
State legislators passed funding this year for a new program to offer one-way flights to any of the state’s estimated 17,000 homeless persons. Lawmakers appropriated $100,000 over the next two years for the “return-to-home” program, but that funding could increase if the initiative is viewed as a success.
There are many reasons why homelessness is so pervasive in Hawaii. It’s an expensive state to live in. It’s not easy to leave. There isn’t much affordable housing.
Viewed in the most charitable light, one-way flights allow homeless people who currently live in Hawaii but have a family or better job opportunities on the mainland to be able to move. Viewed more cynically, officials in Hawaii will use this initiative to coerce homeless persons into leaving, freeing the state from any further obligations to help them.
Urban legend has it that many of Hawaii’s homeless arrived to the island due to other states sending their homeless there with a similar program. In order to get a free one-way ticket, a person must be participating in the program for the first time and swear he or she is doing so voluntarily.
Although Hawaii is said to have a “generous” welfare system, the island’s infrastructure does not have adequate public housing resources for its population. Many people feel that instead of giving one-way tickets for people to leave, the state should spend more time trying to build programs that will aide the homeless population in finding housing and jobs.
What do you think about the program, Clutchettes?