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Denver buses its homeless out of town, but it’s not what you think

Author: Adam McCoy - February 2, 2018 - Updated: February 2, 2018

(iStock / monstArrr_)

OK, yes, the City of Denver does bus some of its homeless out of town, but don’t jump to conclusions. Westword’s Chris Walker explains what’s really going on in a report this week. Walker follows up on a mention of the Mile High City by the British newspaper the Guardian in a piece it had done on cities busing their homeless elsewhere.

As Walker notes, Denver busing out its homeless sounds like some scheme to ship the whole issue of homelessness to another part of the country. On the contrary, the city is actually helping people reconnect with family out of state:

We reached out to Julie Smith, communications director with Denver Human Services, to find out about Denver’s particular bus program.

It turns out that Denver does have a busing program, but it is neither robust nor conspiratorial. Rather, its goal is to reunite homeless individuals with family members in other states.

The Family Reunification Program provides qualifying applicants with one-way bus tickets out of Denver. According to an email from Smith, “it is a fairly small program with annual expenditures of about $30k or less and serves around 130 people/families.”

Smith tells Walker about the program’s vetting process and success stories. But 9news in January 2017 told the story of 27-year-old Austin Blitzer, who received a one-way bus ticket to San Diego through Denver’s program, but noted days later on social media how we was still homeless.

Since its beginnings in 2011, Denver has purchased approximately 600 one-way tickets through the program, at a cost of $150,000, Westword reports.

Read Walker’s full report here.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.