Think About It: Homeless Tales - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

December 4, 2014

Think About It: Homeless Tales

As information now seems to come out almost weekly about the homeless situation in Hawaii, it might be a good time to clear up a persistent myth you hear from time to time. You know the one- where people anecdotally mention that mainland cities and states are buying one-way plane tickets to encourage the homeless to come to Hawaii. Well, it sounds too bad to be true, and it is. I chatted at length with a spokesperson from the Institute for Human Services, and he assured me that no one has indicated to his staff that they got a one-way ticket to paradise from some benevolent municipality.

IHS is on our streets every day in its quest to help minimize this on-going social dilemma and did indicate that some people who come here use money that they received from social benefits elsewhere to buy their own plane tickets, but the money is not given to that downtrodden person with the intent that it will be used for a plane ticket. Many homeless people in Waikiki who have come from the mainland have been here well over five years, some for more than 15 years, according to IHS, leaving behind physical abuse, drug issues, legal hassles, etc. Hawaii is seen as a last resort or a chance for a possible fresh start by many- but it doesn't always work out that way.

Turning the tables on the long-held myth, IHS is using its Relocation Assistance Program to help individuals get back to family and/or friends on the mainland under the right circumstances with detailed background checks and with IHS following up for months thereafter to ensure that these people are, in fact, welcomed back home. But scratch that idea that North Dakota and Maine are offering free wintertime, one-way tickets to Waikiki off your old wives tale list, because the experts who do the research every day say it simply isn't true. Answers are hard enough to come by in the social and mental breakdown that too often accommodates homelessness without the need to blame fictitious mainland, big city bogeymen. Think about it… 

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