LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas moved forward with a controversial plan to keep the homeless from sleeping on city streets. Last night’s vote came after hours of heated debate from supporters and opposers of the bill.
This new law bans sleeping and camping in public areas across the city.
In addition to the criticism at the public hearing, the city is likely to face lawsuits almost immediately. Homeless advocacy groups believe it’ll end up in the courts.
Critics believe it’s unfair and does not get to the root of the problem. Those in favor are glad something is finally being done.
Tempers flared yesterday inside Las Vegas City Hall. Mayor Carolyn Goodman shouted back at outbursts from the crowds as viewpoints clashed over this controversial homeless ordinance.
The vote came after several hours of impassioned public comments.
After hours of the heated debate though, council members passed the new law with a 5-2 vote. It will allow the arrest of anyone living or sleeping in public areas after the offer and refusal of shelter services.
The penalty is a misdemeanor carrying a fine up to $1k and up to 6 months of possible jail time.
“I’ve had a homeless person passed out in front of my driveway. I’m a person with a disability. I don’t on any government subsidy and I work. I find a way to do it, ” said Raymond Fletcher, in favor of the ordinance.
“The fact that it’s only certain areas of the city it’s just showing that the city does not want to look at this problem. They do not want to see it. They want to push it out of sight out of mind so that they don’t have to do anything about it,” said another resident against the ordinance.
“A lot of my constituency told me they didn’t feel it was the right approach. They are compassionate neighbors who know being homeless is a very difficult situation to navigate through and isn’t as easy as everybody thinks to get back on your feet,” said Councilwoman Olivia Diaz.
Councilwoman Olivia Diaz and Councilman Brian Knudsen were the only two council members who voted against the ordinance.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman, one of the big proponents of this ordinance, said, “This is the first step and that’s why it’s flawed because it’s not perfect. It is a resource and a model to get replicated in other parts of Clark county.”
Critics believe it is unfair and does not solve the problem. Those in favor say it’s a step in the right direction and address health and sanitation issues.
The bill states an officer can only make an arrest after a person refuses to get help or go to a shelter.
8 News Now has a poll on Facebook and the community is speaking up. Visit our Facebook page to add your thoughts on this important issue here.
This ordinance goes into effect this Sunday, Nov. 10. The fine and arrest penalties won’t take effect until February 1.