“Since 2007, the city has quietly arranged airfare or bus tickets – one-way – for 550 homeless families. They have been sent as far away as India, Russia and Peru, although the bulk have been dispatched southward, to Florida and Puerto Rico. Recipients must demonstrate they have a family somewhere that is willing to take them in, and they are free to choose whether they want to participate in the program”. This “Greyhound Therapy” is not new and it is clearly being utilized in many other parts of the world on a smaller scale, but regardless, I simply cannot perceive that the intent is to benefit the homeless.
Besides the fact that homelessness exists in part due globalization, mass immigration, a declining economy and other such issues, an important factor to consider is that many homeless people have existing untreated mental health problems; therefore this solution doesn’t help them to get better and it most certainly maintains the stigma that the homeless and mentally ill are disposable. Instead this approach simply transfers a problem to another city to solve. It seems that the possibility of truly helping the individual is completely overlooked. For instance, with proper medication a schizophrenic could be reintegrated into society as an upstanding citizen.
However, New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg insists that housing the homeless costs far more money than a plane ticket. This may be true, but at what cost to the individual? Bloomberg is taking it even further by imposing a rental fee for some shelter residents and evicting others who disobey the newly implemented shelter rules.
“Recipients must demonstrate they have a family somewhere that is willing to take them in, and they are free to choose whether they want to participate in the program”. Where have these family members been all along that they so eagerly take them in at the call of duty? And, who will judge whether this so-called choice to participate is a well-informed one?
One would expect a better solution from the city that lays claim to the country's first homeless shelter in 1872, the New York City Rescue Mission. Let’s hope for more innovative solutions.
N.Y.'s homeless solution: a one-way ticket