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updated: 8/5/2013 10:12 AM

Homeless could get help returning to mainland

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  • This July 12, 2010 file photo shows a homeless man who goes by the name Guy West collecting cans on Waikiki Beach, Monday, in Honolulu. Homelessness increased 15 percent on Oahu since last year according to a recent report. A growing number of homeless are not from Hawaii but make the most of their situation by taking advantage of inviting beaches and support services. State lawmakers are struggling with the visible problem of homelessness in tourist areas and some have proposed a contentious idea to use state money to fly the homeless back to wherever they came from.

      This July 12, 2010 file photo shows a homeless man who goes by the name Guy West collecting cans on Waikiki Beach, Monday, in Honolulu. Homelessness increased 15 percent on Oahu since last year according to a recent report. A growing number of homeless are not from Hawaii but make the most of their situation by taking advantage of inviting beaches and support services. State lawmakers are struggling with the visible problem of homelessness in tourist areas and some have proposed a contentious idea to use state money to fly the homeless back to wherever they came from.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

HONOLULU -- Hawaii's human services officials and groups that help the homeless are skeptical about a program that would help fly homeless people back to the mainland.

A new state law includes a provision allowing the state Department of Human Services to coordinate a voluntary "return-to-home" program that would seek help from airlines, cruise lines, charter companies, homeless programs, travel agencies and the visitor industry.

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The department doesn't have any plans to implement the program at this time. Still, officials worry the national and international publicity about the effort will inspire folks to become homeless in sunny Hawaii, knowing they'll have a guaranteed ticket back to where they came from.

Marc Alexander of the Institute for Human Services says a state-funded fly-home program comes with too many unintended consequences.

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