When Government Works (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018 12:00 am   2 min read

A Rock Region Metro bus carries passengers during an afternoon commute in downtown Little Rock. (Tre Baker)

If we had the solution to homelessness, we’d share it immediately and we all could rest a little easier. But we don’t. What we do have is faith in the importance of work, not just to earn a living but to give our lives structure and — if we’re among the lucky who work at something we enjoy and value — meaning.

So we were pleased to read last week that Rock Region Metro, central Arkansas’ transit system, will be partnering with organizations that serve the homeless to provide free bus passes to eligible homeless people. In exchange, these organizations will pay $8,400 annually for the bus passes along with a $1,000 administrative fee.

It’s an effort to address root causes of homelessness. Homeless people say that the lack of transportation is the biggest hurdle they face to getting and keeping a job. And getting and keeping a job go a long way toward moving a homeless person into a permanent residence and off the streets or out of the shelters.

Sandra Wilson, president of the Arkansas Homeless Coalition, “said she knows of no other community that integrates transportation access into a plan to help get homeless people off the street,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

“I think that part may be unique,” she said. “I think that’s what is going to make ours effective.”

To be eligible for a bus pass, a homeless person must prove he’s working toward stabilizing his life and getting off the streets.

We were taught that we should strive to be independent and self-supporting, that all honest work was worth doing well and that work well-performed was a source of self-esteem, not just of income. We have found this to be true. And a government program that promotes work by removing barriers to getting it is one worth supporting.

 

 

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