Monday, July 14, 2014

Representative Rida Cabanilla Urges Governor to Implement Statewide 'Return to Home' Program

Representative Rida Cabanilla (Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ocean Pointe, West Loch) urged Governor Neil Abercrombie to implement the ‘Return to Home’ program created to reduce homelessness in Hawaii.

SB515 (2013), signed into law as Act 222 (SLH 2013) by Governor Abercrombie in June 2013, created and appropriated $100,000 for a three-year ‘Return to Home’ pilot program, an initiative to provide one-way airfare tickets for eligible homeless individuals to return home to their families on the mainland. However, the Department of Human Services—the coordinating department as written in law—declined to establish and administer the program.

The intent of the program would reduce the ever growing problem of homelessness in Hawaii and ensure that individuals who find themselves homeless in the islands are able to reconnect with family and support networks where they would have the opportunity to recover. Additionally, the program would possibly further save Hawaii taxpayers millions of dollars in welfare costs that would have been spent on homeless individuals who have travelled to live in the state.

“The Governor has not released the $100,000 that was appropriated in the 2013 state budget for the ‘Return to Home’ program for the homeless. This appropriation is much needed to decrease the homeless population in our state, to return these stranded homeless individuals from the mainland to an environment of their choosing, and most importantly to preserve these funds for our own homeless kamaaina. Let us implore the Governor to release the money and create the program,” said Cabanilla.

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