This year, the City of Fort Lauderdale has budgeted $25,000 to purchase bus tickets for homeless people who would like to leave town to be taken in by their friends or family.
According to Deanna Greenlaw, public information officer for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, "this program is facilitated via the Fort Lauderdale Police Department Homeless Outreach Program, via officers solely assigned to homeless outreach."
Individuals interested in obtaining bus passes must "meet the FLPD homeless outreach officers at the outreach assessment point," Greenlaw says. "There are a series of questions that have to be answered, and officers have to conduct a follow-up with each application."
First, applicants must sign the application "to verify all of their information is correct, and it states the city will not supply cash for traveling, that it is a one-time offer from the City of Fort Lauderdale, and that the city is not responsible for any mishaps, problems, or missed transfers along the way."
Officers follow up on the application by "making contact with the individual they are traveling to, verify the address, check for warrants, and few other things for checks and balances. Additionally, they need to be available to be at the Greyhound Station at the time of their departure."
The city ran a similar program in 2012. Asked whether the city tracked individuals who took advantage of that program, Greenlaw said, "There is no 'tracking' of the individuals who participated in this program; however, the FLPD homeless outreach officers have received numerous letter, postcards, and emails from some of the participants, thanking them for their service."
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler did not respond to a request for comment Friday, but in 2011, he told the Sun Sentinel, "We're not pushing them out. If somebody has a network of support, a group of family and friends that will provide for them back home, that's probably a good place for them to be."
Other cities, including Sarasota and West Palm Beach, have experimented with similar programs.
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