New York City Offers Homeless Free Airfare Out of Town

By | July 29, 2009
A mentally handicapped homeless man sleeps on ...
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New York City has implemented a program to buy one-way airline tickets for homeless families to leave the city. More than 550 families have left the city since 2007. The program requires a relative elsewhere willing to take them in.

A travel agency is employed to book the tickets and there are no limits on where a family can be sent. The program, which is voluntary, has sent families to 24 states and 5 continents, mostly to Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

One set of parents agreed to move to France with their three children to be with the mother’s family. The $6,332 travel cost included five plane tickets to Paris and five train tickets to the town of Granville. The city will pay for visas, passports, gone to consulates…In rare cases, they will advance the family up to four months’ rent, a one-month security deposit, a furniture allowance and a broker’s fee.

The shelter system costs $36,000 a year per family, and a one-way plane ticket is significantly less so. More than 35,000 people are currently in shelters in New York City. None of the relocated families have returned to the shelters. Critics state that the program fails to address the problem of homelessness, and is merely sending it somewhere else.

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