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Homeless in Hawaii? Lawmaker wants to give you a free flight home

A Hawaii state representative says it’s time state taxpayers give the homeless a ticket to ride .

Rep. Rida Cabanilla, D- Ewa Beach, wants Gov. Neil Abercrombie to implement “Return to Home,” a pilot program signed into law in June 2013 that set aside $100,000 over three years to buy homeless people from the U.S. mainland one-way airfare home.

The number of people living on Hawaii streets continues to climb, rising 32 percent during the past five years to at least 6,300, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Cabanilla says giving the homeless airline tickets would reduce the ever-growing problem of homelessness in Hawaii and ensure the homeless can reconnect with family and support networks in their home states. It would save Hawaii taxpayers millions in welfare costs, she said.

However, neither the governor nor the state Department of Human Services, the agency that establishes and administers the program under state law, has implemented the program.

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