Hawaii is being invaded by homeless mainlanders, says NPR reporter Wayne Yoshioka, and who can blame them? A state-funded homeless shelter in downtown Honolulu is offering room, board and health-care benefits for $3 a day. Are homeless "tourists" living off the backs of Hawaiian taxpayers?
What will $3 a day buy you?
According to NPR, $3 will get a homeless man three meals a day, a bed at Honolulu's Summer Homeless Men's Shelter, $200 a month in food stamps, and free health care. With prices like that, says Gawker's Jeff Neumann, "you could always treat it as a cheap vacation....Better to spend $3 a day than over $200 for some crappy hotel, right?"
What does this generosity cost taxpayers?
The Summer Homeless Men's Shelter has an operating budget of $2 million, and Aloha State taxpayers foot most of the bill. Hawaii is facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit.
How many mainland homeless are taking advantage of this?
About 1,300 a year — a third of the shelter's guests. University of Hawaii researchers estimate that 43 percent of Honolulu's homeless street population is now white, up from 21 percent in 2005.
When not camped out at this taxpayer-funded shelter, where do the homeless stay?
State parks and beaches. Their tents and garbage are an eyesore, an unidentified resident told a local TV station, and "if I can see it from the ocean, tourists coming in can see it from the plane....All the homeless tarps and everything is just bad image for Hawaii."