When people think of Hawaii they think of beautiful beaches and sunny weather. And of course, they would be mostly right.
Hiding underneath the natural physical beauty, however, is a problem that’s becoming an epidemic.
It doesn’t get as much news coverage as it should, and you won’t find it on the brochures encouraging visitors to come but the problem is very real.
Here’s the paradox. Is the very nature of Hawaii the reason for the dramatic increase in homelessness? As we look to our state government for answers, are they contributing to the problem?
Many of the homeless are local people that have struggled to make ends meet, but there are some out there who have chosen to move here and be homeless.
If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
Where else in the world can you go where the temperature stays between 60 and 90 degrees all year round?
On top of that, you get to participate in one of the best (if not the very best) welfare programs in the country.
Free money, no need to get a job and live in paradise? Sounds like a great deal to me.
Many of Hawaii’s residents are looking to the state to improve the situation but how can they find a solution to a problem that they continue to perpetuate?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that most people don’t choose to be homeless. In fact, many of us are a couple of withheld paychecks away from going down that road.
I also know that the welfare program can be a great benefit to many people needing a hand up. My wife and I were on public assistance for almost a year when we had our first child together.
And I ain’t even lying when I say that I was all about that free milk and free medical for my baby. And when you try to transition off assistance, it isn’t easy.
When my daughter was old enough, my wife went back to work. We lost all the assistance and was paying cash for food, paying a higher monthly premium for medical and paying for childcare. We were in worse financial condition.
We would’ve been better off staying on assistance and having one of us take care of my daughter.
While we had dreams, goals and aspirations to do more and be more, I completely understand the allure of staying on public assistance.
You can take care of your own child and raise them the way you feel is best and have your basic needs met.
It’s a real challenge trying to balance all the variables because every situation is unique.
So, the question (and the paradox) is, how do we alleviate the crisis of homelessness in Hawaii when Hawaii itself is the attraction?
Where do we go from here? What are your thoughts?
The Hearbeat of the Big Island