New York City is exporting its homeless population out to 32 different states, including Hawaii.
That’s according to a report by the New York Post detailing a program that pays for travel, rent, and home furnishing.
Since the program launched in 2017 New York has sent over 12,000 homeless, but according to a City of Honolulu official, only one has landed in Honolulu as a part of the Special One Time Assistance Program.
“For any state or county to just unfairly send homeless people to another place because you want them out, again it falls into the throwaway category they just don’t care. So any elected official on a county level, a state level, or federal level ought to be concerned.” said state representative John Mizuno.
State and city officials contacted Monday were less concerned about the issue, citing the small amount of data pointing to homeless from out of state residing in Hawaii.
“Less than 8 percent are individuals coming from the mainland or elsewhere who lived in Hawaii for less than a year, so the number of people coming from out of state arrivals is very small in our service system, and in fact, the majority of people are local people who are born and raised here.” said Governor David Ige’s Coordinator on Homelessness Scott Morishige.
Still, the potential remains for more to be sent to Hawaii as a part of the program, as New York is reportedly not alerting other municipalities of the exports.
Mizuno wants to make sure that those would be accounted for.
“The best way would be when they go to get their welfare benefits, to have the caseworker see how did you get here can I take notation on how you got here? Oh, New York paid your way ok.” he said.
“Once we get a grasp on the significance of homeless that have been sent to Hawaii it makes our case stronger.” Mizuno added.
Morishige thinks that those flying in from out of state are mostly doing so on their own volition.
“I think definitely there are people who come to Hawaii from out of state, but my personal experience with it is individuals who choose to come here on their own, not necessarily people who are sent here from another community.” Morishige said.
Mizuno is planning to take the issue to the federal level.
“It’s inhumane and I think that I need to write a letter to the justice department to look into the legality of that.”