Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Taxpayer funded bus trips for homeless

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BATON ROUGE - One city is footing the bill for its homeless to take one way trips to places like Los Angeles and Tulsa.

The Way Home program started through private funding and gave 75 vagrants tickets out of town.

But recently, Baton Rouge Metro Council gave the project a $5000 grant to bus people out. In a month and a half, 14 more have gotten free rides.

It's a way of moving people off the streets and into new lives but somewhere else.

"If they're just trying to get them out of Baton Rouge, I don't know what to think of that," Shannon Burnette said.

"No that's not what we're doing," co-founder of Way Home Mary Jane. "It's a long term assistance program for people."

Mary Jane says each person in the program goes through a background check. Homeless wanting tickets must verify who they are and prove they have a family member or a job where they are going.

"This is not a program that just hands somebody a ticket because they want to go somewhere. It is a ticket to give them an opportunity to get their life back on track," Mary Jane said.

The tickets cost on average about $100. A little more than $1600 of the city's grant has gone to tickets.

So far, there's been people eight turned down because either they were getting money assistance elsewhere and could afford their own ticket or they had a criminal record.

"If they have any kind of criminal anything pending, then they don't qualify for a ticket," she said. "If we can help these people get someplace where they have a support system, it frees up a bed. It frees up food. For someone else we have to assist."



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