Fort Lauderdale, Florida has instituted a new homeless bus ticket program. It's dubbed the "Homeless Reunification Program." Eligible participants will receive a one-way bus ticket out of town.
The program is intended to reunite homeless individuals with their friends and family.
Homeless who want to take advantage of the free bus tickets must show they will have someone waiting for them when they arrive in their new city.
The program was funded using $25,000 confiscated from criminals. Several other counties in Florida run similar programs.
Yet, it doesn't have universal support. Homeless advocates say that the bus program won't do much to alleviate the real problem. They say the program is simply pandering to voters. They say city officials are simply moving the homeless problem to another city's doorstep.
It's an argument that has been heard before. When New York City instituted its bus program in 2007, it also received criticism.
After all, people are often homeless for multiple reasons. Some can't find jobs. Others are disabled and unable to work. Ultimately, moving them to a different city might not resolve any of these underlying issues.
Some might also wonder if "busing" the homeless out of town is legal in the first place. It likely is considering the program is voluntary. But the homeless population does face increasing criminalization. Many cities have passed ordinances that criminalize loitering and sleeping on public property. For those who live on the streets, running afoul of the law seems unavoidable.
Crackdowns on these types of crimes can result in arrests and jail time for homeless individuals. In turn, criminal records make it more difficult for them to secure jobs. It's a difficult situation.
So will Florida's "Homeless Reunification Program" be successful? Maybe buying the homeless bus tickets can assist them. This is especially true if they have friends or family waiting to help them when they arrive in their new city.