Proposed plan would bus homeless out of San Diego

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SAN DIEGO -- The Port of San Diego considered a plan Tuesday that would help pay for one-way bus tickets out of San Diego for the homeless.

The plan would seek new ways of moving homeless people living on the streets along San Diego Bay, most appear to be between the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum and Cesar Chavez Park

The Port would work with the Downtown San Diego Partnership, which already has a similar program in place.

The next step would be to get involved with the Work Your Way Home program, in which homeless people are given a bus ticket to a relative's home.

The bus ticket program requires participants to agree to follow-up checks after three, six and nine months. The report says about 300 people have taken advantage of the program over the past two years, with only a few returning to the streets.

The Work Your Way Home program, which is run by the Downtown San Diego Partnership, also plans to set up more donation spots where people can donate money to help homeless people.

So far, port staffers said revenue from donation stations had been minimal, but the awareness they've created has resulted in increased giving elsewhere.

The Port District -- which includes Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego -- counted 943 people living along the tidelands in August. About half were contacted by the Alpha Project, and 138 males and 40 females agreed to go to shelters, the report says.

The Alpha Project, a non-profit organization with a mission to address homelessness and support programs to get people off the streets, supports the proposed plan.

According to the Alpha Project President Bob McElroy, they offer help and opportunities for men and women who find themselves “trapped” in San Diego.

“Instead of just giving them a ticket, we have them do community service work and clean up the community to earn their bus ticket to get home,” McElroy said. "It's a win-win for everybody, community is better off and these guys get to go home."

The commissioners took no action after hearing the report Tuesday, and staffers said they would continue to research partnership programs.

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