Sarasota to offer one-way bus tickets to certain homeless people

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Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 10:37 pm

SARASOTA, Fla -- At first, it may sound like some sort of prank; the city offering one-way bus tickets to the homeless. But Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin says offering one-way bus tickets to the homeless has worked in Jacksonville, so it's time we offer it to the homeless in Sarasota.

"Where the local homeless outreach team has funding to return people to their home communities and their families when there is a recipient on the other end willing to meet them," he explained.

Barwin says the local homeless outreach team will screen applicants very closely before buying them the one-way tickets.

"Over time they (homeless outreach team members) will hone in on who is interested in the program and who is just using it as a quick pass to get out of town for a couple of days," Barwin said.

Private resident Art Levin thinks this plan is so terrific, he approached the City Manager after the meeting to donate.

He thinks it's a great idea.  "You just don't give them money, it does take counseling, not just an arbitrary hand 'em a buck," Levin said.

The new program is especially popular with those who live and work around the Rosemary District--who, one by one today, told their respective stories to City Commissioners about losing business and patience to vagrants, many of whom have shifted from Main Street to the 4th and Lemon area.

So how would the homeless react to one-way bus tickets? We asked Calvin Collins, the licensed mental health counselor who interacts with dozens of them every day on behalf of the Sarasota Police.

"The ones we've talked to are excited. They want to go home," Collins said.

The City chipped in a thousand dollars in an effort to spark private donations.

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  • Otto Banks posted at 8:11 am on Sun, Sep 7, 2014.

    Otto Banks Posts: 2

    So this is what we are going to do with those who lost there home. We are going to give them a one way ticket out of town. But while they are out of town we are going to fine them for the upkeep of there home. This is how America takes care of its citizens. And some of these folks are our vets and the disabled. We have created a wonderful society.

  • SRQBORN posted at 5:41 pm on Wed, Sep 3, 2014.

    SRQBORN Posts: 2

    Will Sarasota ever get it right? Nice gesture if there are homeless who really have somewhere to go and no way to get there. The homeless who are embarrassing the downtown people have no where to go. And the downtown homeless are no different than the homeless in every other town, sorry if the "dignitaries" coming to the Blue rooster are upset....Sarasota lets get a solution...I have personally never found the downtown homeless to be a personal problem when being there ...but I do understand the problems of them sleeping in doorways at night and needing bathrooms that aren't available once again can't Sarasota figure this out.

  • Squatting Buffalo posted at 11:39 am on Wed, Sep 3, 2014.

    Squatting Buffalo Posts: 3

    This is not Jacksonville, not even close.... I hope you have a lot of money, because as usual, you are providing a jury rig patch instead of a viable solution - creating a revolving door will not solve the problem, it will only create more.


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