IMPACT

Vancouver Homeless People Should Receive Discounted Transportation: Advocates

09/06/2013 02:39 pm ET

Instead of turning away from homeless people asking for a subway swipe, a caring collective in Vancouver is working to provide affordable transportation for people in need.

The local Transit Working Group and the nonprofit Collingwood Neighborhood House are teaming up to help provide discounted transportation solutions, arguing that mobility is a primary issue for the area's 2,600 individuals without a home.

The Homelessness Transit Awareness advocacy video above argues that transportation is essential for homeless and low-income people to find jobs, housing and mental health services, as well as stay in contact with support systems.

The video aims to raise awareness and funds for an upcoming public forum on the issue. The initiative is seeking a discounted fare program, a waiver for the $173 fine for those who use transit when they can't pay, and development of a homeless transit plan. It is modeling its program after a successful service in Kitsap County in Washington State that provides non-stigmatized access to low-income individuals.

The Vancouver city council is urging cities in the area to support the plan.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, however, is not wholly convinced on the issue, 24 Hours Vancouver reported in July.

Judy Graves, Vancouver’s former official homeless advocate, told the council it's a plan she has been supporting for two decades.

“We really don’t want to be a region that denies the benefits of transit to a whole segment of our citizens,” she told 24 Hours.

Initiatives such as these stand in stark contrast to those in places such as North Dakota or Florida, where homeless people are given one-way tickets out of the city. Other states such as South Carolina are struggling to find solutions for homeless people, sparking heated debate over issues including criminalizing homelessness.

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