Booted From The Big Apple

Since 2007, New York City’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been shipping members of the city’s homeless population to other cities across the country and around the world, compliments of New York City taxpayers.  The mayor has been offering a free ticket to anywhere in the world to any homeless person or family who agrees to “get out of town.”  The city will even obtain a passport and visa if the destination happens to be to a foreign locale.

Whle many of the more than 550 families that have taken “Mayor Mike” up on his generous offer to give them a free ticket on a plane, train or bus have opted for places like Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico, others have elected much more exotic destinations, including:  Casablanca, Morocco; Lima, Peru; the Virgin Islands; the Ukraine; and Haiti.

Given the fact that New York City spends about $36,000 per year to provide shelter for a single homeless family, it is understandable that Bloomberg is looking for ways to reduce the city’s homeless population.  However, simply shifting the problem to other cities, without asking mayors at the receiving end if they agree, is irresponsible and unethical.

It also appears that at least some of the families taking advantage of Bloomberg’s largesse may have planned it all along — coming to New York and then quickly turning around and asking for a free ticket to somewhere else.

Perhaps if mayors in other cities were to emulate Bloomberg’s tactic, and started sending their homeless families to New York City, it might cause the Big Apple’s chief exec to take a more responsible attitude and address his city’s problem rather than simply send it elsewhere.  But I doubt it.

36 comments Add your comment

Zach F.

August 19th, 2009
6:51 am

I agree it is irresponsible. However the mayor of NYC has the advantage of not being a destination for homeless populations. Warmer locales are much more attractive. This is an age old problem, that us northerners are able to get away with.

3rd Party Guy

August 19th, 2009
7:04 am

Isn’t this the American way? Pass your costs on to someone else? Our whole Corporate Socialist system is based on it. It explains why we have trillions of dollars of debt to pass on to our children and grandchildren. Homeless relocations are chump change. Let’s have some info on all the UNFUNDED LIABILITIES that our governments have racked up.

clyde

August 19th, 2009
7:05 am

I’m betting winter in Tampa is better than winter in New York.Now if Tampa would put forth a similar program then the homeless could winter in Tampa and summer in New York.What a plan.I might even be interested.

Bob

August 19th, 2009
7:05 am

The liberal way, don’t fix problems, let others do it for you.

DeborahinAthens

August 19th, 2009
7:19 am

Bob, I don’t think Bloomberg is a liberal. He’s one of yours. The fact that the Republicans have never fixed a problem in this country is one of the reasons we have arrived at this place. Remember, Bob, the Democrats were totally out of power for ten of the last twelve years. If you can’t offer in intelligent comment, keep quiet.

Jake

August 19th, 2009
7:38 am

I agree that it is inconsiderate to not contact the mayors first. From what I understand these people need to have families in these locations willing to take them in first (i am sure that gets abused as well). Any other ideas to solve this problem?

clyde

August 19th, 2009
7:41 am

Actually Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat and only became a Republican to get elected.I don’t know how someone goes to bed on Thursday as a Democrat and wakes up Friday morning a Republican.

ByteMe

August 19th, 2009
8:01 am

I think you just need to look at this in the right light. This is a “Cash for Clunkers” program for the airlines/bus companies!

[...] Booted From The Big Apple [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] [...]

Captain Underpants

August 19th, 2009
8:30 am

Ship them over to Venezuela…ALL OF THEM.

Jake

August 19th, 2009
9:10 am

@Clyde – Easy, it’s called politics. Who cares about the party system? It doesn’t work. Kudos to him for being so open to changing his opinions….wait maybe that is how he plays the political game… The truly sad part is that its THE PEOPLE who have the power, unfortunately this power is wasted on griping about how the 2 party system doesn’t work, and how the boogie man will get you if you do not vote for a Republican or a Democrat.

Cindy

August 19th, 2009
9:12 am

Nobody would want to go to NYC Bob. Were I homeless I would want to go to a place where the weather is warm year round.

[...] Bob Barr expounds on booting the homeless from the Big Apple. [...]

Joan

August 19th, 2009
9:48 am

your article is missing the most important part of Bloombergs program- those families leaving NYC have to have family in the new destination that are willing and have agreed to take them in. No how is that bad for homeless? It will actually help them get back on their feet and become productive citizens.

chris broe

August 19th, 2009
9:56 am

I don’t understand why homeless New Yorkers dont just take the cash cab and win big money while they get to their destination and then, of course, go double or nothing and really win really really big dough.

clyde

August 19th, 2009
10:21 am

There’s always someone like Joan who wants to ruin a fun discussion with facts.

William

August 19th, 2009
11:02 am

Atlanta did something similar during the run up to the 1996 Olympics offering one way bus tickets out of town for the homeless if I recall. Seemed to help them albeit a questionable method.
There are few if any altruists on Capitol Hill, both parties are complicit on just about every national issue.
So I am curious if there will be any recourse to Bloomberg by fellow mayors.

gloom and doomer

August 19th, 2009
11:57 am

Gee…A Mariel boat lift raht chere in the good ol’ US of A.

the evil rich

August 19th, 2009
12:53 pm

$36,000 per year to provide shelter for a single homeless family is $750. a week, what that hell are the doing with that money, sorry these people are HOMELESS, but $36,000. a year for shelter?

It’s NOT the government’s responsibility, that’s up to family, church and charity, PERIOD!

Mrs. Norris

August 19th, 2009
12:54 pm

“$36,000 per year to provide shelter for a single homeless family”

Wow, I’m going to move to New York and open a homeless shelter.

Mrs. Norris

August 19th, 2009
12:55 pm

Oh, you didn’t say how many people constitute a family. Now if that’s for ten people, there may not be a profit.

Randyinathens

August 19th, 2009
1:00 pm

DeborahinAthens are you really that dumb to think Republicans have been in power the last 10 to 12 years? Do you have any idea how our system of government works? Have you ever heard of the House and the Senate? Try looking it up, those two entities together make laws, together they do that and if you will take the time to look it up you may just find dumbocrats have been in power the time you reference. God what do they teach you folks up there at UGA. Maybe they should introduce history classes.

JF McNamara

August 19th, 2009
1:15 pm

Bob,

This is misleading. For those who care, here is the full write up from the AP. A relative has to agree to take them. They aren’t just dumping them on the street.

“More than 550 families have left the city since 2007. All it takes is for a relative to agree to take them in.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090729/ap_on_re_us/us_homeless_one_way_tickets;_ylt=AhKqQTQJ6n6UKwnHPdKrXch0fNdF

Cletus Snow

August 19th, 2009
1:15 pm

It doesn’t seem much different from Castros Dumping his incorrigable prison population on the US, or Atlanta’s diesel therapy for the homeless before the Olympics.It has to be wrong to simply ship your problematic homeless to another zipcode. I believe 3rd Party Guy has it figured close enough for Government work, it has become the American way.
It seems like a good time to visit the big Apple, claim homelessness to get a free trip to Hawaii for the family.

2Cents

August 19th, 2009
1:31 pm

Deborah – Atcually, Bloomberg is touting independent and democratic party ideals these days. He was registered republican a number of years ago.

But the real problem isn’t what Bloomberg is or is not – it’s that you’re willing to castigate 1 party to the exclusion of all else. Isn’t it difficult to blind yourself to your own party’s failings? And doesn’t it get tiresome?

As long as partisans in both parties play this game, we’ll never get anywhere. I suppose it’s fun to think you’re right, or better than the next blogger, or whatever thrill comes with yacking a party line without any thought, but it’s beginning to hurt our country and our policies.

There’s a lot of blame to go around, both republican and democrat. And there’s a bit of glory for both, too. It would be refreshing to find a blog where some new info or facts are written, not just a retread of party talking points.

Bryan

August 19th, 2009
1:40 pm

As JF McNamara said, this is misleading — it’s not dumping someone on another city to be homeless. New York is expensive, has few jobs, and is a frequent destination for people who really have no idea what they’re getting into. Back home in Augusta they may have a sister with a spare bedroom, a job with their brother-in-law’s company, and social / church support. In New York, once their “Sex and the City” dreams don’t pan out, they have…a shelter (and eventually probably a dealer).

Trouble is, once you’re broke in New York…you’re broke. Scrape up the air fare to return to Puerto Rico? Forget it — if you had two bucks, you’d buy two slices of bad pizza. Saving up air fare just ain’t happening…and that A train doesn’t run to Florida. This program just greases the wheel — hopefully it allows the person to go home and become a productive, functioning member of society again, rather than a drain. (To that end, this program only sends people home if they can show that they won’t be homeless when they get there — it doesn’t dump people.)

Perhaps a true, dyed-in-the-wool libertarian would say that we shouldn’t support these people at all — close the shelters and let them figure it out. But that’s not happening — it’s a reality that we’ll either spend thousands to house and feed them in New York, or a few hundred to send them back to a place where they can house and feed themselves. To me that’s a no-brainer from a libertarian point of view.

Now, this might not always work. Some people will say they have family back home…but end up homeless again anyways. And you’ll always get the jerks who try to exploit the program. But this program is so fiscally-sound that even if we screw up sometimes, it’s still costs fewer taxpayer dollars (both in New York and elsewhere) than the alternative.

So I know it sounds like a crazy idea when you first hear it — but dig a little deeper and it makes a lot of sense.

Peter

August 19th, 2009
1:51 pm

Ahhhhhhhhhh the EVIL RICH…….. sticking foot in mouth …. or something !

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 19th, 2009
2:12 pm

It’s like urban renewal and neighborhood gentrification, you can move poor people to another area and make the area they left into a yuppie haven but those poor people still exist. They’re just out of sight.

George American

August 19th, 2009
3:22 pm

WE SHOULD DO THE SAME IN ATLANTA.

LET’S SHIP THIS LAZY BUMS SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!

Booger Bomber

August 19th, 2009
3:25 pm

Ship them to Kenya and let them live with Obobo’s family.

Johnny

August 19th, 2009
3:35 pm

I say we ship them all to Bob’s house. Bob can play cricket with them. hahahahhaha

kimmer007

August 19th, 2009
3:56 pm

Wow. Reading these ignorant comments makes me so glad I left Atlanta four years ago and moved to (you guessed it) New York City.

Jase

August 19th, 2009
7:08 pm

kimmer007. Will you be travelling by plane, train, or bus? Cruise ship, possibly? International or domestic destination?

USinUK

August 20th, 2009
4:43 am

first of all … does no one remember the street cleaning efforts during the Olympics??? let he who is without sin blahblahblah

secondly, as other commenters have noted, Mayor B isn’t just giving them a random one-way ticket, the people who accept the offer have to have family that will take them in. if they’re not going to be living off of other cities’ resources, I fail to see why Mayor B should notify anyone.

David S

August 20th, 2009
12:19 pm

At the root of all of this is the government’s power to tax. Without this power and this money they would be unable to perpetuate their “violence” on society.

Without the power to tax, just think of how much money would be back in the hands of society and how many fewer homeless there would be.

Daedalus

August 26th, 2009
10:22 am

Bob — its a voluntary program. Did you forget to mention that? They can stay in NYC if the want to.

And that comment about people going to New York for the express purpose of getting a plane ticket home. That’s serious investigative journalism. Except you’ve got no facts to back it up.