Since Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg began his tenure, he promised to address the problem of homelessness in the city. The Bloomberg administration has found out a way to save the city money and solve the issue: giving them one-way tickets to any location
The destinations vary from Paris to Johannesburg and are put on New Yorkers’ tab. Since 2007, more than 550 families have been flown out of the city. This new structure is to help keep them out of the shelter system, which costs the city $36,000 per year per family.
Many of the homeless people are original New Yorkers who fell upon hard times and sought any shelter’s help however, some of them are non-New Yorkers who are very happy to be out of the city, according to one man, Hector Correa
who was shipped back home to Puerto Rico, “I didn’t expect the city to be the way it is. I was expecting something different, something better.”
The Correa family moved to New York in May in the hope to find a better life but instead they could not find work nor pay their bills. They looked for help through the shelter and one of the counsellors told Mr. Correa that he could move back to Puerto Rico at no cost, “The person I spoke to in the shelter informed me that if I have a person I could stay with in Puerto Rico, that I could get help to go. I feel very happy because I’m going to be able to get back to do the things that I know how to do.”
New York City uses a domestic travel agency, Austin Travel, to book one-way tickets for travel within the United States. Employees of The Department of Homeless arrange all international travel.
The plan, which costs the city $500,000, provides travel for families anywhere in the world. In one case, a family with three children received a flight to Paris, which cost $6,332. This new type of system can also provide up to four months of rent, if it is deemed necessary.
The Director of the Resource Room, Vida Chavez-Downes, told the New York Times, “We want to divert as many families as we can that need assistance. 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.”
Other states, like Hawaii, have rejected plans to send their homeless away on one-way ticketed flights.
Arnold S. Cohen, the President and Chief Executive of the Partnership for the Homeless, is critical of this new implementation by saying it does not help the origin of the underlying problem, “The city is engaged in cosmetics. We’re taking people from a shelter bed here to the living room couch of another family. Essentially, this family is still homeless.”
City officials have confirmed that none of the families who received help from New York and relocated to another destination have returned to a shelter.
It seems the Mayor must have used the joke, "Take my homeless, please!"