Volunteers and employees at the facility celebrated the aid the ISO-Q provided to Southern Nevada’s most vulnerable population during the ongoing global health crisis, but critics question the amount spent on a relatively small group of people. Others wonder whether the facility was closed prematurely amid the growing number of coronavirus cases.
The City of Las Vegas and Clark County announced in a joint press conference Monday, that the shelter, designed for members of Las Vegas' homeless population exposed to the coronavirus, will open at 6 p.m. The new facility consists of tents in the Cashman Complex parking lot outfitted with heating, Wi-Fi and other amenities and is able to house up to 500 people.
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As cases of COVID-19 have proliferated, advocates have raised concerns about how the estimated 7,169 people experiencing homelessness on any given day in Nevada will fare when shelters are cutting back on services to minimize contact with people during an outbreak that threatens those living in close quarters, the elderly and people without access to facilities to properly clean themselves.
As daylight turned to dusk late Wednesday afternoon, the question that dictates daily life for many of the city’s less fortunate residents became more urgent. Where would they sleep? Soon the decision could carry legal implications.
Board Co-Chair Kathi Thomas-Gibson, who is the director of the Office of Community Services for the City of Las Vegas and responsible for providing homeless services, fielded pointed questions from her peers for an ordinance passed by the City Council.
Listen awhile to advocates for a new city ordinance that’s meant to move street-camping homeless from sidewalks and trash-strewn lots into shelter, and you can almost imagine a kinder, gentler Las Vegas. That’s a Las Vegas where there are enough beds for the down-and-out no matter their condition, one that has a continuum of care that’s more than a turnstile.
After hearing the proposed new homeless ordinance, I was feeling every emotion in the book. Happy that I’m off the streets; sad for the friends I know are still homeless; upset at the City of Las Vegas for proposing a measure that will not fix the homelessness problem.
When the City of Las Vegas sent a letter to other local governments suggesting its homelessness services were being strained by those outside their jurisdiction, county commissioners replied: How do you know where they are from if they don’t have addresses? The exchange is the latest show of tension between the two governing bodies struggling to address homelessness.
A proposal to make it a misdemeanor to camp or sleep in a public right-of-way in downtown and residential areas of Las Vegas is being met with resistance from a variety of voices, including presidential contender Julian Castro who showed up at City Hall Wednesday to speak to protesters outside.
If passed, the ordinance would make it a misdemeanor to camp or sleep in any public right-of-way downtown and in residential areas in cases where beds are available at at the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center or another service provider along the “Corridor of Hope."