When Help is Far Away: Project Reconnect in New York City

On Sunday, the New York Post published an article critical of Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Homeless Services for continuing Project Reconnect, a voluntary program that provides one-way travel for homeless individuals and families stranded in New York City. Our president and founder, George T. McDonald, responds:

Those of us who advocate for the homeless have imagined ourselves in the situation countless times: you’re stranded in the city without food, shelter, or money. You’re alone. You’re lost. A few hundred miles away, your family is waiting to help you. But you have no way to get to them and they have no means to bring you home.

What’s the best solution? The answer is obvious: a way home.

Project Reconnect is an important, compassionate answer to one facet of New York City’s homelessness crisis. It provides a fast, simple, and effective way to end an individual’s suffering and alleviates some of the pressure under which our shelter system operates.

But even setting compassion for the homeless aside and forgetting about the overwhelming demand for shelter in New York City, the program is a success by the numbers. Every homeless person in New York City is likely to spend time in one of three places: a shelter, a hospital, or a jail cell. And a bus ticket home always costs the taxpayer less than any of those eventualities.

Project Reconnect isn’t a problem at all. Not for the Mayor, not for the Department of Homeless Services, and certainly not for the tax-paying citizens of New York City. It may not be the right solution for every homeless person struggling here. But when help is far away, the best chance a person can hope for is a way to reach it.

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About Author: The Doe Fund

Founded in 1985, The Doe Fund provides life-transforming services for the homeless, the formerly incarcerated, disenfranchised youth, and people living with AIDS. The organization's flagship Ready, Willing & Able program has helped tens of thousands of individuals achieve permanent self sufficiency through paid work, transitional housing, and employment training.