Ft. Lauderdale Offers Homeless People Free Rides Out of Town

| by Michael Allen

On Tuesday, the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, City Commission approved a $25,000 program which will buy homeless people one-way bus tickets out of town and to relatives who are willing to care for them. The program is being paid for by the Florida Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which is money confiscated from criminals.

However, not everyone is happy about it.

"The nature of that is quite transparent, to move their problem onto somebody else’s doorstep,” National Homeless Coalition head Neil Donovan told the Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“We’re not pushing them out,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said. “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.”

Fort Lauderdale has more than 7,000 people living in shelters and housing, while another 190 families were on a waiting list for openings three months ago.

Vice Mayor Bobby DuBose was the only commissioner to vote against the program.  DuBose voiced his opinion that there were other ways the money could be used to help the homeless.  He said he was also concerned that some homeless people may take advantage of the program and use it as a cheap vacation.

Under terms of the program, a participant would only be eligible to receive a free ticket once.

Sean Cononie, who runs a homeless shelter in Hollywood, Florida, said if Fort Lauderdale runs its program the same way Broward County does, and the homeless aren’t forced onto buses to leave, he’s all in favor.

“We need to not force the homeless into leaving town.  That’s their God given right to be where ever they want to be.  But if they want to go home and the city’s willing put them home, I think it’s a great opportunity for both parties,” said Cononie.