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Las Vegas: Lights, Glitz, and Public Policy
May 24, 2010
You might assume that people experiencing homelessness in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas are former gamblers, drifters from California, or people that were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. But according to Continuum of Care Coordinator Michele Fuller-Hallauer, many of the homeless in this region are mentally ill, and require regular intake of medication.
Last week I visited the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition’s Committee on Homelessness, where I met Fuller-Hallauer, Shannon West, and Catherine Huang Hara, who are part of a small group that oversees homeless policy in this area.
The Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition works with several other organizations and committees in an effective team that has seen results: street homelessness has decreased 16.4%.
They’ve also seen family homelessness drop: in 2008, there were 933 homeless households with children. In 2009 that number dropped to 346 homeless households with children. This is a reduction of 587 households or a 63 percent reduction in family homelessness.
Still, the overall figure of homelessness in Las Vegas has climbed 16.8 percent. The increase in the overall number of homeless comes from their increase in people that are utilizing transitional housing programs. They have experienced a great deal of success in moving people to permanent housing, but – in cases of those who are mentally ill and unable to make rational choices – they cannot move them into permanent housing as easily.
They do a great job in what is a very busy social services system in southern Nevada.