In 2017, the Guardian newspaper released its bombshell report “Bussed out” which detailed a strategy employed by American cities to “solve” their homelessness crises by literally bussing people to other communities. Two years later, a King County councilmember is trying to beef up one such program.
King County’s Reagan Dunn proposed putting $1 million behind a program called “Homeward Bound,” which aims to buy bus tickets for homeless people for “the purpose of family reunification.”
“For many of the homeless on our streets, Seattle has become a dead end, and approximately one in ten homeless people say that a ticket back to their family would enable them to get permanent housing,” Dunn wrote in a newsletter.
“The idea is controversial in King County, but I believe it’s a discussion our community should be having,” Dunn continued.
What’s odd about the proposal isn’t its “controversial” nature, but the fact that King County already has one. Diversion funding provided by King County, Seattle, United Way of King County and private funders already fuels such a program “driven by the needs of the individual,” said Kira Zylstra, acting director of All Home King County, the coordinating organization around the homelessness response in the area.
Dunn’s proposal relies on a figure from the annual point-in-time count conducted in January, which found that 9 percent of people who completed a survey indicated that family reunification would help them.
Family reunification is one strategy to combat homelessness because it can reconnect people with their support networks.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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