Driving to end homelessness? Sacramento now has a new, free of cost to riders bus just for the homeless to take them to places that help them get back to stability such as job interviews, the DVM, doctors, counselors, training, and services.
The poorest of the poor now have their own chauffeur, a free bus ride to move them closer to stability. And the drivers may come from the homeless population. They know what it’s like to be homeless in the past and then to have found stability. It shows how with some training formerly homeless people can become reliable, good employees.
The bus takes homeless people to various human assistance programs, and job interview-related places. It’s an innovative new program designed to put homeless people on the road to finding jobs and more stable lives. Rides take people to various services. See, Paratransit.org: Wheels to Work. Check out Wheels to work, Paratransit, with offices at 2501 Florin Road, Sacramento, CA 9582.
Wheels to Work, is the result of a partnership among Paratransit, the state Department of Rehabilitation and Women’s Empowerment. Paratransit has hired seven graduates of the nonprofit training program for full-time jobs transporting homeless people to appointments that may ultimately lead to employment. Wheels to Work is an innovative program dedicated to helping homeless and low income individuals in the Sacramento area.
The organization provides counselors and Internet enabled computer workstations which help people who don’t normally have access to the Internet find transportation and related services aimed at securing employment. Presently two Wheels to Work buses is equipped with a computer workstation that people living in shelters or on the streets can use to get job counseling, apply for work and prepare for interviews.
The idea of the homeless bus is to help people with whatever they need at the moment related to making their lives more reliable, adaptable, and affordable. Check out the December 30, 2011 Sacramento bee article by, Cynthia Hubert, “Wheels to Work helps drive homeless job candidates to new opportunities.”
It’s possible for the homeless to get training to become drivers for these Wheels to Work buses for helping the homeless stabilize. Thunder Valley casino donated the buses, and Paratransit turned one of them into a rolling work station.
Stability is the name of the goal when it comes to the new homeless bus in Sacramento. And more cities across the nation should learn a lesson and develop their own free bus service for the homeless to help them get back on their feet. Transportation to places where people can find jobs, training, or services is the biggest barrier between the homeless and those with access and the money for public transportation. For example, most homeless people can’t afford the monthly bus pass to ride around from one appointment to the next.
Even for seniors, the free bus pass has been taken away from people over age 75. And for those between 62 and 74, the fee is $50 a month for a bus and light rail pass. For younger people the fee is too high for most homeless riders who need to ride around from one appointment to the next. And for the homeless, every city could use this as a lesson in how to help the homeless stabilize.
Give them free rides to job interviews and other services leading to stability. Sacramento bus pass fees for people under age 62 for a basic monthly pass is a whopping $100.00 per month. Basic semi-monthly bus and light rail pass is $50.00. If you’re poor, you can’t afford that. The cost of a pass for people with disabilities proven by a doctor’s letter is $50 per month to ride the light rail all month. And for the semi-monthly pass, you get to ride the specific two week dates on the bus pass, not any day you need to ride during that two-week period. So you can see how important it is to have low-cost transportation for the homeless.
One of the vehicles travels to shelters and low-income housing complexes, stopping for three-hour stretches and offering employment services. The other bus shuttles people to key locations including Loaves & Fishes, Francis House, the Sacramento County health clinic, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Social Security Department.
The service identifies what a homeless person might need such as a doctor, driver’s license, or counselor, and helps move the person to that place. One of the services that could be added for seniors, not necessarily homeless, is a way of getting to the DMV for identification card renewals. Instead of issuing the elderly person a life-long senior identity card for non-drivers, the card expires every decade on the person’s birthday, making it harder for older seniors with problems walking, impaired vision or hearing to get to the DMV to renew their non-driver senior identity cards, especially when they get up there in age. The DMV requires walking from bus or light rail stops to the building and standing in long lines. Seniors who are home-based and of low-mobility should be able to renew online or through the mail using their own web cameras to take photos instead of having to get new photos taken every decade.
How much does your face change from your original picture at age 62 or older when you are not driving? What DMV needs to do is continue using the older adult’s original picture from the senior ID cards and just issue an updated one for life instead of making the senior come down to DMV every decade. People don’t change that much in old age, and seniors do become less able to walk and stand in line when using transportation after a certain age. Drivers can renew licenses through the mail by online applications, but not seniors who don’t drive who hold senior citizens nondriver’s id cards. The law should be changed for older people unable to walk into a DMV office who already hold senior ID cards that will soon expire.
As for the homeless bus, drivers have been hired from Women’s Empowerment graduates and are reliable employees and great drivers. Wheels to Work has helped numerous people gain stability since its launch in August. More cities should provide buses for the homeless at no cost to them to help them get jobs and other help.
For example, the bus goes from the Paratransit stop on Florin Road to downtown Sacramento. The bus travels to the Union Gospel Mission, where dozens of men and women wait for a ride for a lift to Loaves & Fishes, which provides a wide array of services to the homeless.
The bus also acts as an office with use of computers to help people receive services that can best help them with the goal of finding the homeless jobs, services, and training. A lot of homeless people in Sacramento need a job, and this bus helps because it is equipped as an “office bus” with a computer. The goal is to help the homeless help themselves and find a job.