Hawaii will pay for homeless to leave

Hawaii will pay for homeless to leave

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In Hawaii, lawmakers have voted to launch a three-year pilot program called "Return to Home" to reduce the financial burden on caring for the state's estimated 17,000 homeless people. Under the plan, the state will pay for a one-way plane ticket for any homeless resident who can find someone on the mainland to take them in.

"We're making it somebody else's problem when we do that," said Mitchell Gibbs with Front Steps which runs the programs at the Austin Resource for the Homeless. "On occasion Front Steps will pay for a bus ticket, but we do the background on it to make sure that when that person gets off the bus they're going to be in a stable environment."

Each year about 10,000 people take advantage of the services offered at the ARCH. When asked if they would take a one-way ticket home, the homeless people we spoke with like Emmanuel Ogara said, "No, I like Austin. Austin is a very nice place to be."

Another man, Terry Harris told FOX 7, "The plans are to get a job and stay, I like Austin."

Critics of the program in Hawaii say shifting homeless people to other parts of the country won't solve the issue of homelessness.

"I understand the economics of it. For a city or community it seems like a great solution to pay for a ticket one time only and you don't have to deal with issues like permanent housing and bond issues to get people into homes. But, in the long run we're just recycling people from one area of the country to another," Gibbs said.

A similar program was implemented in New York City six years ago. The program in Hawaii will have an annual budget of $100,000.

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