NEW YORK, July 29 (UPI) -- New York is providing homeless families with one-way airline tickets out of town in an effort to keep them out of the city's shelter system, officials say.
Since 2007, the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg has paid for more than 550 families to leave the city, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
City officials say there is no limit to where a family can be sent.
So far, the program has provided flights to 24 states and five continents, most often to Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
One family with 10 children accepted an offer to go to Puerto Rico while another family moved to France with their three children.
New York spends $500,000 a year on the program which employs a local travel agency to book the one-way flights.
"We want to divert as many families as we can that need assistance," says Vida Chavez-Downes, who heads the program.