ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET
Alaska could learn something from Seattle and other large urban megalopolises when it comes to the homeless and “diversion” programs.
Take, for instance, operations in place for decades in cities such as San Francisco and New York and West Palm Beach, in Florida, to help send the homeless back to where they say they came from.
The city of Seattle and community organizations already offer the homeless free bus tickets out of town, but Reagan Dunn, a King County council member, wants to take it further. He wants to set up a $1 million, free-standing government program to provide bus tickets for “family unification.” It would be part of the city’s homeless diversion program, the Associated Press reports.
Dunn, we believe, is onto something. In territorial days, Alaska used to have a “blue ticket” that was offered those who ran afoul of the law and were given the choice of jail or a one-way ticket south. If they took the ticket, they were escorted to Seward to catch a steamship heading south.
Alaska and the city of Anchorage, along with social agencies, Native corporations and other private businesses, should consider an updated version of that program for the homeless, perhaps mirroring Seattle’s, to help those who want to go home.
It would not be the complete answer to Anchorage’s homeless problem – not everybody, after all, wants or is able to go home – but it certainly is a better idea than herding the homeless from one city park to another every 10 days or warehousing them in permanent camps that only promise more problems than solutions.
It would be a step toward helping to solve their problem and the city’s.