Provide help, not a handout

As the issue of homelessness moves to the front burner of all levels of government in Hawaii, one distinction must be kept in mind:

Society has different obligations to people who can’t help themselves as opposed to those who won’t help themselves.

The idea is to provide job training, mental health care, medical care, food and temporary shelter to those who are dispossessed through no fault of their own. Homelessness cannot be used as an excuse to build a brand-new entitlement program.

Preferably, most assistance will be temporary, though there will be cases where for mental or physical reasons a citizen can’t resume a role where he can support himself. Those cases should be the exception.

The major focus should be to provide the counseling and training that allow people to get back on their feet — not converting buildings into dormitories for permanent habituation.

With Hawaii’s current unemployment rate of around 2 percent, workers are needed. Able-bodied homeless need to be trained and guided to companies that need workers.

Those with drug or alcohol problems need to be treated and returned to the workforce.

In short, the goal should be help, not a handout.

All of us have sympathy for the homeless. We must channel our efforts to assisting them back into the mainstream of everyday life.

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(Publisher’s Note: Due to budgetary constraints, the Opinion page will be appearing only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays beginning this week.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.