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
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)

(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.

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