Hawaii’s tourism industry and the state’s biggest homeless shelter operator are partnering to expand a program that flies homeless people back to the mainland.
The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association donated $125,000 to the Institute for Human Services on Wednesday, part of which is to sustain its airline relocation program in Waikiki and start a similar initiative on Maui.
Last year, IHS launched its Waikiki Outreach Program, a “repatriation program” that has provided one-way tickets home to 115 people, who were identified through a vetting process aimed at making sure they have a plan in place back on the mainland.
IHS will use $25,000 of the donation to launch a Maui version of the program, in partnership with the Maui Family Life Center.
“There is a high demand statewide to expand this program elsewhere, but we wanted to start with Maui because of its high population of recent arrivals, and knowing there are many direct flights to the mainland,” said Connie Mitchell, executive director of IHS.
The Maui program is expected to help about 80 people reconnect with family and friends on the mainland.
“The program initiated a year ago was just the start,” said Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of HLTA. “We still have a big job in front of us, one that requires all of our stakeholders to remain diligent in building on the momentum achieved thus far for Waikiki.”
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