Earlier this month ABC News published a story about James Brown, who, after spending three days in a psychiatric hospital in Nevada, was given a one-way bus ticket to California. In their story, ABC calls this practice “patient dumping,” a way for cities or states to rid themselves of homeless and/or the mentally ill by giving them one-way tickets to other cities. And though ABC recently released this story, the practice is not a new one. An Internet search for something along the lines of “shipping/sending homeless people away” will bring up stories and locations ranging from Hawaii to California to Texas.
Such a practice does nothing to end homelessness to help those with mental illnesses. It is a practice that solves nothing. We don’t believe that such a practice occurs in DC, though we do help people buy one-way bus tickets to places as far away as California, but only after verifying that they have a place to live there. Most of the time, they are returning to their families, and we speak with them on the phone to make sure that they are willing to reunite with and house our client. We hope that the practice of sending people away to other cities or states in order to be rid of them ends; helping the homeless is everyone’s responsibility.