Local Connection: Return To Home Law

By: Rick Blangiardi

We know that homelessness is a big problem in Hawaii and the state's return to home law, while well intentioned, needs to go back to the drafting table.

Return to home would have had the state pay for one-way tickets to have the homeless returned to family members on the mainland.

According to the Chamber of Commerce it costs the state about $1,500 to $3,000 per month to provide services to a single homeless person. Some say it's even higher when medical costs are included. Nearly six in 10 of our homeless are not from Hawaii.

But the law was written, as many are on the state and city level, without a clear understanding of the impact and the State Department of Human Services chose not to participate.

DHS said it could not easily make connections with family members, conduct criminal background checks, get people on airplanes and make sure that the funds used for transporting the homeless were actually being used for that purpose.

So the idea is a good one but it needs fine-tuning. Let's hope it gets going with all the necessary checks and balances.