Mayor to fund homeless bus tickets
BATON ROUGE- City leaders approved a request by Mayor-President Kip Holden to use $10,000 for purchasing bus tickets to give to homeless people to send them out of town.
The money would be given to the HOPE, or Homeless Outreach Prevention Efforts, organization for its "Clean Sweep" operation. The group will buy the tickets and handle the travel plans.
"This is not just a bus trip to go somewhere and come back," said William Daniel, the city's chief administrative officer. "This is actually sending them to someone who can help them, give them some care, someone willing to give them some care."
The tickets will be used to send the homeless person to a family member in another city. People who use the program will need to have a background check and verify their identity.
"The program is not designed for anyone that has any kind of criminal background," said Oscar Watson, Greyhound manager.
But, not everyone agrees with how the program is selling itself.
"They're trying to get rid of what they call the undesirables," said Richard Knox, who once lived on the streets of Baton Rouge. "I would want the ticket to go see my loved ones, but I don't want you to use that as a guise to get rid of me."
"We try our best to treat them in a humane way and reconnect them with their loved ones," Daniel said.
Knox says even for those who can get a ride, many are not interested.
"[The city] just want[s] to sweep them out," Knox said. "But at some point you're going to have to deal with them."
The city provided money for the same program last year, too.
The $10,000 comes from a $3.3 million dollar request for a midyear budget allocation at Wednesday's Metro Council meeting.