Homeless get one-way tickets
Proponents of the Homeless Reunification Program, which aims to take people off of the streets and into the arms of family members, say that spending thousands of dollars on bus tickets is a more efficient long-term option to spending money on shelters.
"We're not pushing them out," Mayor Jack Seiler told The Palm Beach Post. "If somebody has a network of support, a group of family and friends that will provide for them back home, that's probably a good place for them to be."
Funding for the one-way bus ticket program in St. Petersburg, Fla., recently doubled, The St. Petersburg Times reports. Last week alone, three times as many homeless people were shipped out of the city as compared with a typical month last year.
Those who oppose the transportation program simply see it as a way to redistribute the problem, not a way to fix it.
G.W. Rolle, a homeless advocate, told The St. Petersburg Times that he talked to several homeless people who took the free ticket, but had nowhere to go once the bus stopped.
"It doesn't solve the problem," Rolle told the news outlet . "It just moves it around."
Some major cities have expanded the program to include plane tickets.
New York will pay to reunite those living on the streets with family living as far away as Johannesburg, Paris and San Juan, according to The New York Times.
The Big Apple spends $500,000 on its program each year, with accommodations arranged by the Department of Homeless Services. Of the 550 families helped each year, about 100 of those are flown back to Florida, the same state that's looking to replicate the busing model.
"We want to divert as many families as we can that need assistance," Vida Chavez-Downes, director of the Resource Room, told The New York Times. "We have paid for visas, we've gone down to the consulate, we've provided letters, we've paid for passports for people to go. Anyone who comes through our door."