Mayor Soglin has made the eye-popping suggestion to include $25,000 in the city budget to buy tickets to put homeless people on buses to their hometown. Former Mayor Dave Cieszlewicz calls him out on it here.
Soglin is convinced that Madison is a magnet for homeless people from across the country or at least across the state (or maybe Dane County).
Thinking dispassionately about the proposal and about what little Soglin has said about what he intends, raises at least several issues. First off, who would administer it and how? What would the administrative costs be? He proposes contacting relatives in the “hometown” before issuing tickets, and right there the complications would arise. There would have to be some sort of vetting process, some sort of communication between here and the proposed location, including social services, to make sure it was more than sending someone to the bus station in Chicago or Milwaukee.
If the mayor were serious about such a proposal, I would think it might require paying a professional social worker for at least a half-time job, given the numbers of homeless and the amount of necessary follow-up. And how much would a half-time salary cost? Way more than $25,000. Without that administrative structure, his program is nothing more than a free ride out of town.
1996 CBS News article: “Just in time for the holidays, the City of Ft. Lauderdale has come up with a way to help the homeless who have relatives in other parts of the country willing to take care of them.
On Tuesday, the city’s commission approved a $25,000 program which will buy them one-way bus tickets out of town. The program won’t cost taxpayers a dime. It’s being paid for by the Florida Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which is money confiscated from criminals.
Vice Mayor Bobby DuBose was the only commissioner to vote against the program. DuBose voiced his opinion that there were other ways the money could be used to help the homeless. He said he was also concerned that some homeless people may take advantage of the program and use it as a cheap vacation.”
HA! A cheap vacation!!