New York City is offering homeless families free one-way plane tickets if a relative elsewhere agrees to take them in.
It’s part of a Bloomberg administration program to keep the homeless out of the expensive shelter system, which costs $36,000 a year per family. More than 550 families have left the city since 2007. All it takes is for a relative to agree to take them in. The city employs a travel agency to book one-way tickets for domestic travel and the Department of Homeless Services handles all international travel. City officials say there are no limits on where a family can be sent and families can reject the offer and stay in city shelters. So far, families have been sent to 24 states and 5 continents, mostly to Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. City officials say none of the relocated families have returned to city shelters.
This doesn’t seem like a terrible idea. I’ve heard of smaller towns giving the homeless free one-way bus tickets, but at least in NYC’s case, Bloomberg tries to ensure they have at least a temporary home on the other end.