FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday night in favor of a plan that will use confiscated funds to reconnect homeless people with their families in other cities.
A homeless woman named Rosetta, 39, said her family lives in Indiana. She said she wants to go home, but doesn't have the money. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler wants to send her north.
"If someone decides not to be homeless on the streets of Fort Lauderdale, that is a good thing," Seiler said. "This is not a situation where the City of Fort Lauderdale is trying to dump its homeless on another community."
Seiler lobbied for the Homeless Reunification Program, the plan that will use $25,000 in money confiscated from criminals to send the homeless home again using a one-way bus ticket.
To qualify, a homeless person must have a family member willing to pick them up on the other end. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department's Homeless Outreach team will monitor the program.
"If there isn't someone on the other side of that bus ride, we're not putting them on a bus to nowhere," Seiler said. "We're not turning our back on these individuals. We aren't saying get the heck out of town."
However some call relocation programs like this just a way to push the homeless problem from one community to another.
Homeless advocates are cautiously optimistic.
"I think if they utilize it the way the rules are set up, their intentions can be beneficial, but if they just start shipping people anywhere, it is a disgrace," said Sean Conoine of the Homeless Voice.