Remember when the city was shipping homeless men to the Catskills — and the homeless indignantly returned and demanded shelter in Manhattan, which they found more exciting and convenient to drugs and crime victims? We sure have come a long way since then. Now we’re sending homeless people to Paris. Also, Puerto Rico, Georgia, and other exotic locales.
The Bloomberg Administration has discovered that with the cost of housing the city’s many homeless families so high, it’s much cheaper to ship them to places where they have relatives who can be guilt-tripped into taking care of them. So, the New York Times tells us, since 2007 they’ve given more than 550 families plane, bus, or car fare home.
The Times provides a map showing some of the outward-bound bums’ destinations. Many were sent to Puerto Rico (the most popular destination, with 136 families repatriated) and Florida, but Texas got 20 of them, and we think their culture-shock would make an excellent premise for a rom-com, as would the fate of the two who went to Alaska. 20 of the families went to foreign countries, including the couple and three children who were sent to Paris and also given train tickets to Granville, where one of their mothers lives and where they presumably are working in the city’s booming hospitality industry, or begging picturesquely.
Comments on the story are lively, though with far fewer offers from readers than we expected to avail the Mayor’s plan themselves and be sent to the south of France or to Coachella.
It sounds like a fine plan, but there’s always a chance that, like the unhappily rusticated homeless of old, they can always come back. Though we admit that’s harder to do from Europe.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 29, 2009