Friday, August 07, 2009

Ship 'em out!

Take a look at the following story that appeared in The New York Times on last Tuesday, July 28, 2009.

City Aids Homeless With One-Way Tickets Home

They are flown to Paris ($6,332), Orlando ($858.40), Johannesburg ($2,550.70), or most frequently, San Juan ($484.20).

Hector Correa and Elisabeth Mojica were at Kennedy Airport on Tuesday to fly home to Puerto Rico, to stay with her father.

Justin Little and Eugenia Martin, with Inez, returned to North Carolina after only a few days when relatives paid their back rent.

They are not executives on business trips or couples on honeymoons. Rather, all are families who have ended up homeless, and all the plane tickets are courtesy of the city of New York (one-way).

The Bloomberg administration, which has struggled with a seemingly intractable problem of homelessness for years, has paid for more than 550 families to leave the city since 2007, as a way of keeping them out of the expensive shelter system, which costs $36,000 a year per family. All it takes is for a relative elsewhere to agree to take the family in.

Many of them are longtime New Yorkers who have come upon hard times, arrive at the shelter’s doorstep and jump at the offer to move at no cost. Others are recent arrivals who are happy to return home after becoming discouraged by the city’s noise, the mazelike subway, the difficult job market or the high cost of housing.

Read the entire story here.

So, what do you think? Is this the right approach for a city to take?

I know here in Dallas it has been reported that vans from surrounding suburban cities drop homeless persons off at The Bridge, our city's homeless assistance center.

Love to hear your reactions.


Anonymous said...

It would be more economical for Dallas to but them tickets to NYC.

Phil McCollum said...

Wow I've never heard of a city buying airline tickets to send homeless individuals back to their relatives in other countries.

When I read your comment about vans dropping off homeless people at The Bridge, it reminded me of of Hollywood, CA where we live.

In the late 90s when Los Angeles' "Hollywood Rebeautification" project began, cold-weather shelters and homeless services suddenly shut down. People living on the streets now had to go to skid row in Downtown LA or to Santa Monica/Venice Beach to find these services. During that time my wife and I found a man passed out on the sidewalk. Being new to the city at that time, we called the Hollywood Police Station. They called "Hollywood Entertainment District" (HED) who sent two men in green shirts to our location. The men identified themselves as off-duty cops who moonlight for the HED. As they lifted the man and put him in their car, we asked, "What are you going to do with him?" They explained they were going to drop him off in Pico Union, another neighborhood known for its poverty (and danger) and, if he wakes up, tell him not to come back to Hollywood.

"But what if this guy needs medical attention or some other help? And how will dropping people off in Pico Unio help them address their homelessness?" we asked.

"It won't," one of the off-duty police officers said, "but that's not our job. We know more needs to be done, but our job is to make sure no one who 'looks homeless' is seen in this area of Hollywood."

By the way, this didn't "solve" anything. It is a decade later and everyday we see women, children, teens, and men sleeping on the streets, abandoned buildings and in cars throughout Hollywood, including the touristy area.

At least the people you are talking about are supposedly finding "a relative who is willing to take them in." Still, I don't know if that is the best thing or not.

Steve said...

This is not a new tactic. it has been around as long as there have been varmints. Somehow it reminds me of my skunks in the chicken coop. I started killing them til my wife objected. So I then live trapped them, and drove them far far away.