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Hawaii plans to relocate homeless back to the mainland with their families

<i></i><br/>A homeless encampment near the Kalihi Transit Center will soon be removed as city crews work to clear out the area. Residents have been complaining about the village along Kalihi Stream that is half-hidden by a bridge on Kamehameha Highway.
Lawrence, Nakia

A homeless encampment near the Kalihi Transit Center will soon be removed as city crews work to clear out the area. Residents have been complaining about the village along Kalihi Stream that is half-hidden by a bridge on Kamehameha Highway.

By Kristen Consillio

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — State leaders are proposing a bold plan to try and reduce the homeless population in the islands.

Hawaii is no paradise for Michael McCann and Michael French who landed here about a month ago with nowhere to go.

“No one wants to be homeless or without a job, without a place to go every day, without a future,” McCann said. “I mean, that’s not paradise. That’s torture.”

The men — both from Boston — met at the Punawai Rest Stop homeless hygiene center and have been inseparable ever since. But at least one of them can’t wait to go back home.

“Everybody needs to have help, absolutely,” McCann said. “If you could help anybody here get back home. People are suffering here.”

Hawaii leaders are trying to get more homeless people back to where they came from, proposing to spend $100,000 over the next year to send them back to the mainland.

“It saves the state millions of dollars in the finite amount of resources we have for our local homeless,” said Rep. John Mizuno, who represents Kalihi Valley. “We’re getting them back to their family, their support group where the homeless can get back on their feet.”

Since 2015, the Institute for Human Services has sent more than 600 homeless people to the mainland, with about 4% ending up returning to the islands. The agency currently sends about 100 people home each year.

But not everyone wants to go.

“This is going to be my home. I’m going to stay in Hawaii. I have no wants to go back to Boston. I don’t like the cold weather there, can’t push a wheelchair around in the snow too good,” French said. “I’ll be here until the day I die.”

But for those who do, “My goal is to get out of here and get my life back,” McCann added.

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