The state of Hawaii is set to offer homeless people airfare to fly back to their home states.
The controversial "Return to Home" program, set to launch later this year, is an effort by lawmakers to tackle the state's homeless problem. An estimated 17,000 people are homeless in Hawaii, and the three-year, $300,000 pilot program is designed to transport at least some of them back to the U.S. mainland.
Supporters of the initiative say it gives the homeless a chance to get back on their feet in a supportive environment while reducing the state's costs associated with sheltering them.
But not everyone thinks it's a good idea.
"We remain concerned this program is an invitation to purchase a one-way ticket to Hawaii with a guaranteed return flight home," Kayla Rosenfeld, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services, told Hawaii News Now.
"This is not a silver bullet, this does not solve everything," John Mizuno, a state representative who supports the legislation, admitted. "It's fractional, it's not for 5,000 homeless people. It's going to be a handful of homeless people that we send home ... home to their support unit."
Mizuno said he hopes the program will send 100 homeless people home this year.