Thursday, August 11, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, December 4, 2016
Coordinated Action Needed to Address Homelessness
By Tom Yamachika @ 4:01 AM :: 3824 Views :: Homelessness

The Homeless

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

One of the most visible crises to hit us in recent years is the problem of the homeless. Certainly, the issue has been around for a very long time, but the problem seems to have intensified in recent years between the general economic malaise that has lingered since the 2008 economic meltdown and the influx of Compact of Free Association (COFA) island migrants.

I'm not about to tell you that I have a solution to the problem. But it does seem that the problem has many facets, and so we shouldn't be talking about only providing housing, or only providing services, or only throwing money at the problem. A coordinated approach is sorely needed. Our Governor’s appointment of an interagency coordinator to direct the effort seems like a step in the right direction.

Coordinated action is not what our government normally does. We normally identify a problem and a half dozen approaches, and then try to implement all of them, often without regard to any issues that might arise because of the cross-pollination.

In the tax system, for example, we try to fight poverty. But we apparently don’t think it wise to increase the threshold income amount below which folks don't even have to file a return and deal with the tax system. Instead, not only do we try to force people with incredibly low income levels to navigate through income tax returns, but we increase the complexity for those people with additional forms and schedules. We have a low-income household renter’s credit. We have a credit for child and dependent care expenses. We have a food/excise tax credit. And our laws provide that if a person who might be eligible for a credit doesn't claim it in a year, the credit goes poof and can't be claimed, ever.

Tax credits, furthermore, have a couple of additional characteristics that make them a tough fit for poverty aid. First, the credits all result in one single check, issued just once in a year. What does a poor person or poor family do during the rest of the year while waiting for the check? Do they get refund anticipation loans, which typically are provided by specialized lenders who charge rates and fees that can reach over 450% in annual percentage rate (APR), according to legislative testimony from the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice? And if we are talking about a homeless person, to what address do we mail the check?

Finally, we can't be blind to the fact that when free financial aid is given out, there will be people who will want to take some even though they don't qualify. Our tax department has a hard enough time separating legitimate from fraudulent claims when the claimants have addresses, phone numbers, and Social Security cards. Are they adequately equipped to deal with the same problems with claimants missing one or more of the above?

This all goes back to the coordination of effort. Offices of government have their areas of expertise. Aid mechanisms, such as housing vouchers, electronic benefits/food stamps, and assistance services have their strengths, competencies, and weaknesses. A truly coordinated approach needs to align the strengths and competencies while avoiding the weaknesses.

We then need to apply the idea of “coordinated approach” to other issues that have been plaguing the workings of our government for decades.

---30---

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT