Hawaii Buys Homeless Plane Tickets to Mainland

Homeless population up 15% in year

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 26, 2010 10:02 AM CDT

(Newser) – The sound of waves crashing, spectacular views, white sand between your toes: Such is life for the hundreds of homeless flocking to Hawaii's shores, where the medical and dental care is free, and hey, you're not under a bridge in Detroit in January. With the homeless population up 15% over last year at a cost of $35,000 a head—and worries that tents on the beach will drive away tourists—the state is resorting to buying them one-way tickets to their home state.

Proponents of the free flight to the mainland are getting criticized for dumping their problems on other states, and there's worry that some enterprising folks will game the system by flying one-way for a Hawaiian vacation, knowing they can cadge a free ride home. And then there's the irony that at least some of Hawaii's vagrants have already taken advantage of another state's fly-them-out-of-here program: It seems New York's Project Reconnect paid for at least five people's flight to Honolulu.

With the Honolulu skyline in the background, a homeless camp is seen in an empty lot near Kaakako Park, Monday, July 12, 2010 in Honolulu.  Homelessness increased 15% on Oahu since last year.
With the Honolulu skyline in the background, a homeless camp is seen in an empty lot near Kaakako Park, Monday, July 12, 2010 in Honolulu. Homelessness increased 15% on Oahu since last year.   (Marco Garcia)
A homeless man who goes by the name Guy West collects cans on Waikiki Beach, Monday, July 12, 2010 in Honolulu.  Homelessness increased 15% on Oahu since last year according to a recent report.
A homeless man who goes by the name Guy West collects cans on Waikiki Beach, Monday, July 12, 2010 in Honolulu. Homelessness increased 15% on Oahu since last year according to a recent report.   (Marco Garcia)
With the Honolulu skyline in the background, a homeless camp is seen in an empty lot near Kaakako Park, Monday, July 12, 2010 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...
With the Honolulu skyline in the background, a homeless camp is seen in an empty lot near Kaakako Park, Monday, July 12, 2010 in Honolulu. Homelessness increased 15 percent on Oahu since last year according...   (Marco Garcia)
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They don't seem to bother people, but it's probably not the image Hawaii wants. You'd imagine they'd have their own area, and not so much where the tourists are. - Kathryn Novak, tourist from Manchester, England

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