Lawmakers seek solutions to homeless arrival surge - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmakers seek solutions to homeless arrival surge

Representative John Mizuno Representative John Mizuno
Kanani Kaaiawahia Bulawan, on right Kanani Kaaiawahia Bulawan, on right
Connie Mitchell Connie Mitchell

By Holly Juscen – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawmakers say it's a problem that is increasing, 30% of homeless people that have been in Hawaii less than a year are either from the mainland or Micronesia, and the issue is straining state resources. Hawaii does receive federal money from 'Compact,' a government program to help Micronesians, but it's not enough.

"Micronesians cost the state approximately $100 million a year. This is for healthcare human services, education and housing. We are getting back $10 million, that's just $1 for every $10 that we invest," said Representative John Mizuno, of Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights, Moanalua, Fort Shafter.

During the briefing at the State Capital, representatives from many Oahu homeless shelters were present. They say homeless arrivals are taking resources from the locals who are struggling and on the streets.

"This state needs to step up and start telling 'Compact' that this states impact is devastating and horrible and the $10 million is not going to cut it," said Kanani Kaaiawahia Bulawan, of the Leeward Housing Coalition.

"We want to save the shelter space for the people who really need shelter emergency shelter because that's what they are there for, we want to be there for the community," said Connie Mitchell, of The Institute of Human Services.

Representative John Mizuno talked about possible solutions to homelessness overall. Mizuno says there are 10,000 people on a waiting list for public housing, and he believes there should be a five year term limit. Therefore, those in need can get affordable housing more quickly. But for now the focus will be on cutting down the number of homeless arrivals.

"We don't want everyone to look at hawaii and say lets just go there and live off their system, cause they have a great system. That's not the message we want to give to the other forty-nine states," said Mizuno.

Another solution lawmakers are looking into is 'Family Reunification,' a program where the state would purchase a one-way plane ticket for someone who is justifiably homeless who wants to return to the mainland and be with their family.

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