Bill to repatriate homeless advances


POSTED: Thursday, February 05, 2009

Some of Hawaii's homeless could get a one-way plane ticket back to wherever they came from under a bill that passed its first test yesterday.




On the Net

        » HB 1187: 

The idea is get the homeless off the beach and back to their families in the mainland by having the state buy them cheap plane tickets.

The measure was approved by the House Housing Committee, but it faces many more committees and votes and it is seeking $75,000 annually to start a new program in a tight budget year.


;[Preview] Legislature Discusses Shipping Homeless Back Home

Some state lawmakers say the state could save money if taxpayers funded plane tickets to send willing homeless people back to where they came from.

Watch ]


  “;When people come to Hawaii for a handout, I don't like it and it's wrong,”; said Clare Hunt-Casher, a Honolulu resident who testified before lawmakers after hearing about the bill. “;Don't come here without any money or job abilities, because it puts a crunch on us taxpayers.”;

The two Republicans on the 13-member committee represented the only “;no”; votes.

“;The solution is to work with the homeless and help them get back on their feet,”; said Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kaneohe-Kailua). “;It seems like a heartless way to deal with people who need more substantial help.”;

The bill's sponsor, Housing Chairwoman Rep. Rida Cabanilla, said she wants to reunite the homeless with their families while saving the state money it spends to provide welfare and other government services.

“;We're not going to force anyone to leave. It's a compassionate bill,”; said Cabanilla (D, Waipahu-Ewa). “;It's cheaper to buy a $300 ticket than enter them in social services.”;

Advocates for the homeless supported the measure, but some voiced concern that it could have an unintended consequence of increasing the number of homeless in Hawaii once they realize they can get a free flight back to the mainland.

“;Some people living in another state might come to Hawaii, and when they get here, they may say, 'I'm homeless and I want to go back,'”; said Chad Taniguchi, executive director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.