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Can a bus pass help end homelessness? Lexington is about to find out.

Lexington and Lextran will offer free bus passes to the homeless who are trying to get back into housing. The pilot program launched last week and will cost a little less than $7,000.
Lexington and Lextran will offer free bus passes to the homeless who are trying to get back into housing. The pilot program launched last week and will cost a little less than $7,000.

The most common barrier for people trying to move from homelessness to housed is lack of transportation.

Last week, Lexington and Lextran launched a free bus pass program for homeless people who are trying to find employment and housing. The pilot program is one of the first in the state of Kentucky, said Polly Ruddick, the director of the Lexington Office of Homelessness Intervention and Prevention.

“Giving a person unlimited access to transportation to resolve their homelessness is a game changer for this city,” said Ruddick, “We know that it is virtually impossible to locate, secure, and maintain housing without the ability to commute within a city. This program, along with our other efforts, goes a long way toward eliminating barriers that historically have made it difficult for the homeless to obtain and maintain housing.”

The only people and families eligible for the bus passes must be living in emergency shelters or be living in transitional housing and working on a case plan with a case manager to obtain housing.

The goal of the program -- called UpLIFT -- is to serve 1,800 homeless adults and kids. Currently $6,516 has been set aside for the pilot program.

“We will reevaluate after 6 months and see where we are at,” Ruddick said.

The city will be able to track valuable data through the use of the bus passes. That data will include the number of passes used, the most common routes individuals are taking and if individuals are able to obtain permanent housing, increased income or other increased benefits through the program.

Earlier this month, the city launched another program to eliminate another barrier many homeless people face -- no identification. The program with the Fayette County Clerk’s office will help pay for the cost of a state-issued identification for people who are living in emergency shelters and working with case managers.

“Not having an ID can make it virtually impossible to escape homelessness,” Ruddick said.

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