Young and Homeless in Las Vegas - 8 News NOW

Young and Homeless in Las Vegas

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Josh became homeless at 17. Josh became homeless at 17.

LAS VEGAS -- An alarming number of young people are living on the streets of Las Vegas. Sometimes they sleep under bridges and use the casino restrooms as their personal wash-rooms.

Homeless since he was 17, Josh is looking for a place to spend the night. Josh asked that his last name not be used. Rain has washed away hopes of sleeping under the bridge at Sahara Avenue and Nellis Boulevard.

"A lot of guys I know, they used to sleep down here with the dogs and stuff," Josh said.

Josh is one of about 6,000 estimated young people living on the streets of Las Vegas. With no place to go, he spends his day looking for shelter and filling out job applications. It's not easy filling out applications when you have no address or telephone yet he remains positive about finding work.

"I do, but I want to know why it's taken so long."

As Josh applies for jobs, he considers turning in an application at a store where he has shoplifted.

"Sometimes I steal from there. I know it's not right, but if I'm hungry I got to get food, so sometimes I take a bag of chips or a sandwich or something and just eat it in the store and leave," he said.

Josh's homeless odyssey began when dropped out of Chaparral High School. He stays with friends when he can, but recently he spent several weeks living under a pedestrian bridge.

"My friends found a couch down there. We brought the couch here and I would just sleep right here on the couch," he said. 

Josh comes from a broken family so friends are what keep him going.

"They'll come sit outside with me and you know hang out with me."

Friends and the William Fry Drop-In Center give Josh hope. It's a place where homeless youth can go for a change of clothes, a bag of food, hygiene products, or just to relax.

According to Josh, his only jail time was for failing to pay a ticket for not having the proper reflectors on his bicycle.

Walking around at all hours, he said he gets hassled by the police.

"I don't do drugs, I'm not doing anything bad ... I have family that lives out there, but they just won't let me live with them unless I have a job, unless I can pay my way. What am I supposed to do? I can't pay my way if they won't hire me, so that's when I have to survive on my own."

After a frustrating day trying to climb out of his economic hole, Josh headed back to the vacant apartment he'd quietly broken into to get some sleep the night before. However he found the window he used to get in was newly boarded up.

"I hate that they did this," he said.

He was locked out from his shelter and his only blanket.

"I probably won't be able to get back in tonight, so I'm probably going to have to call a friend and most of my friends live on the other side of town."

But with no money for bus fare, and no phone, getting there will be another challenge.

This year the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth has seen a 100-percent increase in the number of clients they serve.


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