Helping Hawaii's homeless with a one-way plane ticket
Hundreds of homeless people have been helped off our streets with "One Way" airline tickets out of Hawaii. The program has been in place for three years, but now some lawmakers want to turn it into a state service.
Hundreds of homeless people have been helped off our streets with "One Way" airline tickets out of Hawaii.
The program has been in place for three years, but now some lawmakers want to turn it into a state service.
Bradley Raymond took a break from his life on the streets, to wash the only other set of clothes he owns at the city's Iwilei rest stop.
"The streets are brutal, I've been to two hospitals because I've been mugged," said the 63 year old.
Thirteen months ago he came to Hawaii.
When a business deal fell through, he wound up homeless.
"I have no friends or family here and at my age, it is time for me to move on," stated Raymond.
Every year hundreds of homeless residents not only want to leave Hawaii, but actually apply for relocation assistance to do so.
"Because we're an island state, airline relocation does become a housing solution," said Kimo Carvalho, with the Institute for Human Services.
The program, funded by the visitor industry and private donors, pays for half of a homeless resident's airfare - as long as friends or family will take them in once they get there.
"We do vet them and make sure they have a safety net on the receiving end. This isn't about shipping out our homeless to another state," said Carvalho.
While the program helps families, the majority of those taking part are single men and recent arrivals to the state, those who have been here less than a year.
"The majority are not coming here and choosing to be homeless. No one is shipping them over to become homeless either, they just get stuck," said Carvalho.
Many times homeless residents are dealing with some kind of loss, like losing a loved one or losing a job, and look to start a new life here.
But some may not realize how high Hawaii's cost of living really is...until they arrive. Then it is too late to leave.
So where do they go from here?
Last year, just under 20% of the 128 people who relocated through the assistance program went to mid-western states, while another 20% made the southern U.S. their destination.
40% traveled to the west coast or Nevada, with most headed to California.
As for Raymond, he would like to end up in the Pacific Northwest. So he has been reaching out by computer to family and friends there, in an effort to return home.
"I'd like to go back to Washington state, take care of my lady and buy a trailer," added Raymond.
While the relocation program is currently privately funded, there is a bill being heard this legislative session that would have the state pick up some of that tab. An effort to help more homeless residents return to their homes outside of Hawaii.