Las Vegas homeless ordinance sparks community concerns
A proposal to make it a crime to camp or sleep in a public right-of-way in downtown and residential Las Vegas is meeting resistance from various voices, including presidential candidate Julian Castro who showed up at city hall on Wednesday to speak to protesters outside.
The Las Vegas City Council’s proposal would apply if sleeping space is available at the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center or other non-profit service provider in the so-called “Corridor of Hope”. People could be fined up to $ 1,000 or up to six months in jail.
During the council meeting, the Nevada ACLU, Make the Road Nevada, Faith Organizing Alliance and several other groups have come together in protest.
“We think this is the wrong approach to working with our homeless community,” said Lalo Montoya, political director of Make the Road Nevada.
“Criminalizing them is not the right way to go about it. Our city is one of the top ten in terms of lack of shelters or affordable housing for our homeless population,” Montoya added. think we need to talk about resources for our most vulnerable Nevadans. “
Gerald Gillock, a lawyer whose law firm is located in an area where the ordinance would be enforced, says he supports the relocation of homeless people from the city center, but also said the city must take responsibility to provide bathrooms or to clean.
“This app does not include any provision allowing the city to provide any type of portable sanitation,” Gillock said during the city council’s public comment period Wednesday morning.
“What is happening is that the homeless are sleeping on the city streets every day, and the city has determined that they have the right to be there. But each of those people has to go to the bathroom, ”said Gillock. “I know the city is doing something with this ordinance, but that’s not all you can do.”
Outside of the meeting, Gillock further explained his complaint.
“The ordinance does not require them to install a toilet. Right now, every day, 18 to 25 people go to the bathroom in the alley behind my desk. You just have to walk down 4th Street and it’s a total stench, ”Gillock said in an interview.
Gillock is concerned that with the way the order is worded, the police may stay it at their discretion and his office will continue to experience the same issues.
“All the police have to say is ‘it’s full’,” and it’s full right now. It’s full before the prescription even starts, ”said Gillock. “Yes [the city] says they have a civil right to be there, so they have to provide sanitation.
Gillock was referring to the bed capacity of the Courtyard Homeless Resources Center, a city-funded facility that does not provide shelter, but rather a temporary “safe zone” in an outdoor area where homeless people can sleep. on rugs on the floor.
When the time came for Mayor Carolyn Goodman to present the ordinance for discussion, city council members voted unanimously to proceed without further discussion. The next hearing on the matter will be on October 14.
Former city councilor Bob Coffin said on Twitter that city council had no choice but to create the ordinance because the legislature had not approved funding to tackle homelessness.
Castro saw it differently.
“We should never criminalize desperation, whether it is people with no choice and living on the streets, or public rights of way, or immigrants seeking a better life in our country. “Castro told about 40 protesters as a new ordinance was proposed inside the building.
Coffin was not impressed and noted, “[Julian Castro] is terribly ill-informed about the problem in our city. He doesn’t realize that our ability to deal with homelessness has been severely limited by the Democratic legislature’s refusal to allow the city of Las Vegas to raise funds to expand our facilities.
Assembly Bill 73, which was originally designed to create a steady stream of income for homeless services and the creation of affordable housing, was essentially eviscerated through an amendment sponsored by Democrat MP Dina Neal that cut down on details and called on local governments to create task forces to identify funding sources.