HONOLULU — State Rep. John Mizuno (D-Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights) is calling for the U.S. Attorney General’s office to investigate allegations that New York City officials are shipping homeless people to Hawaii.
In an Oct. 31 letter to U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr, Mizuno requested “an inquiry and investigation into New York City’s policy of sending homeless citizens to other states across our nation,” as reported in a New York Post article.
“Hawaii will not be able to handle a large number of homeless people being dumped here should New York continue this practice,” Mizuno wrote in his letter to Barr.
Kauai Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami offered the following written statement in regards to Mizuno’s letter and the allegations made in the New York Post article:
“While we have heard about homeless individuals receiving one-way tickets to Hawaii. I don’t believe any of us were aware that this was a formalized government program marketed as a ‘one-time assistance program.’
“It would be incomprehensible to think that sending a homeless individual thousands of miles away on a one-way ticket with absolutely no other form of support would qualify as assistance. While I can’t verify that such a program exists, if it does, I absolutely support further review,” Kawakami wrote.
“The number of mainland homeless residents in our state is the reason we continue to support the Hawaii’s Homebound Program, which works to reunite homeless residents with their families back home,” the mayor continued.
”The difference between our program and this alleged program would be that Hawaii’s program requires that a family member agrees to receive and support the person receiving the homebound ticket. This warm hand-off ensures that the person in need receives the continued support he or she needs,” said Kawakami.
Mizuno’s request is based on an Oct. 26 New York Post article whose headline that begins, “NYC secretly exports homeless to Hawaii.” The article alleges that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Special One-Time Assistance Program” has exported 12,482 homeless people to 32 states since its inception in August 2017.
“I ask that your agency conduct a legal review and investigation into this matter, as many Hawaii residents have serious concerns that this illegal program could exasperate an already- tragic situation,” Mizuno wrote, calling for a “full investigation” into de Blasio’s program, which he described as “a recipe for disaster and inhumane to the homeless being exported out of New York.”
Barr has yet to respond publicly to Mizuno’s letter.
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.