MANHATTAN - New York City is offering homeless families one-way plane or bus tickets to anywhere they may have relatives to stay with.

The free tickets are part of a Bloomberg administration program to keep families out of the city's shelter system, which costs $36,000 a year per family. Officials say more than 550 families have left the city since 2007.

The city works with a local travel agency to arrange domestic travel and with the Department of Homeless Services for international travel plans. Officials say none of the families relocated to other areas have returned.

AP wire services contributed to this article.