Fewer homeless on streets of San Diego thanks to new program
'Work your Way Home' program sends them home
Last Updated: 86 days ago
SAN DIEGO - You may notice fewer people living in the streets of San Diego, thanks to a new program. The Downtown San Diego Partnership's "Work your Way Home" Program is allowing people to work and earn a one-way ticket home to the support of friends and family.
Gene Roush is a homeless veteran who says he never thought he would find himself living on the streets.
"Most people are a payday away from being here and it's not easy," he said.
Roush one of hundreds of homeless residents who are considering taking part in a new program that could help get him back on his feet.
"It sounds like a great deal," he said.
The program was started by the Downtown San Diego Partnership in February of last year. Since then, it has helped 124 people get off the streets.
Kelly Knight is the homeless outreach coordinator for the San Diego Downtown Partnership's Clean and Safe program. She is helping some of San Diego's homeless to get home to the love and support of friends and family.
"They work an eight-hour shift with our maintenance crew, which they go out and empty trash cans, pick up garbage, things like that … and then we get them a bus ticket home," she said.
A person living on the streets or a shelter must sign a waiver agreeing to accept a one-way ticket home. A family member or friend must agree to take them in. Knight says the program works.
"I had a young guy call me from Boston a month after leaving," she said. "He was saying he had a job and was working on getting his own place."
Knight says 124 people have gone home through the program. The farthest they have sent someone is to Dover, Del. An average bus ticket costs more than $200, which is far more than an average day's pay. The ticket is subsidized by businesses from the San Diego Downtown Partnership along with public donations.
Critics say the program simply ships the homeless to other cities.
San Diego police Sgt. Rick Schnell, who is with the department's Homeless Outreach Team, says the program works.
"We would never just put somebody on a bus and send them to a location not knowing what's on the other end," he said. "It's a good deal for the city. It's an even better deal for them because they get reconnected with their family or wherever they came from."
The group says of the 124 individuals who have been sent home, only one has returned to San Diego.
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