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Portland Will Pay For One-Way Bus Tickets For Some Homeless People

<p>A greyhound bus drives down the highway.</p>

Don Ryan


A greyhound bus drives down the highway.

The Portland City council has set aside $30,000 to pay for one-way bus tickets for homeless people. The transportation funding is part of a $2.8 million emergency spending package for services for the homeless the council unanimously approved Wednesday.

Housing Bureau Program Manager Sally Erickson says the goal is to help people who have ended up stranded in Portland to return to places where they have family support or stable housing.

Before her yes vote, Commissioner Amanda Fritz tried to dispel the idea that the funding will be used to deport homeless people.

"Let's just be clear, we're not planning to take busloads of people to Seattle and San Francisco at the same time they're sending busloads of people to us. That's not what's happening,"Fritz said.

Erickson replied that caseworkers will verify that people have support when they arrive at their destination.

The program is not entirely new. The Housing Bureau has allowed caseworkers to spend rent assistance funding on bus tickets or even plane tickets to help homeless people return to their places of origin.

But Erickson says requests were approved on a case by case basis and people often didn't know the funding was available. The dedicated $30,000 in funding will enable the bureau to contract with a nonprofit to run the program.

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Amelia Templeton is a multimedia reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting, covering Portland city hall, justice and local news. She was previously a reporter for EarthFix, an award-winning public media project covering the environment in the Northwest.