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.