An 18-month nationwide investigation by the Guardian reveals, for the first time, what really happens at journey’s end
By the Outside in America team
Quinn Raber arrived at a San Francisco bus station lugging a canvas bag containing all of his belongings: jeans, socks, underwear, pajamas. It was 1pm on a typically overcast day in August.
An unassuming 27-year-old, Raber seemed worn down: his skin was sun-reddened, he was unshaven, and a hat was pulled over his ruffled blond hair. After showing the driver a one-way ticket purchased for him by the city of San Francisco, he climbed the steps of the Greyhound bus.
Cities have been offering homeless people free bus tickets to relocate elsewhere for at least three decades. In recent years, homeless relocation programs have become more common, sprouting up in new cities across the country and costing the public millions of dollars.
But until now there has never been a systematic, nationwide assessment of the consequences. Where are these people being moved to? What impact are these programs having on the cities that send and the cities that receive them? And what happens to these homeless people after they reach their destination?
In an 18-month investigation, the Guardian has conducted the first detailed analysis of America’s homeless relocation programs, compiling a database of around 34,240 journeys and analyzing their effect on cities and people.