Homeless ordinance could have huge impact on teens on the streets

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — We are digging into how the City of Las Vegas new ban on homeless sleeping in public places will be enforced. This week the city council approved the rule that says if there is room at a shelter then sleeping on a sidewalk or in a residential area is banned. It has penalties of jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.

The penalties won’t kick in until February but the city plans to start enforcing the sleeping ban on Sunday.  Shelters tell us they already don’t have enough room:

“I’m not exactly sure how they expect this to work when there’s already more demand than there is supply,” said Deacon Tom Roberts — President & CEO Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.

There is no age limit on the new rule. That means it applies to homeless teens as well. Homeless youth roam the streets of Las Vegas. Some choosing to spend their nights outside instead of a shelter.

Ron Moore helps a few at the Nevada Homes for Youth. A non-profit assisting teens with substance abuse.

“A lot of them are scared of the system and they’re scared of what could happen to them,” Moore said. “We get a lot of kids that are kind of in that transition where they’re out there and they’re using drugs.”

His organization tries to aid, but knows not all homeless youth seek support. Data shows nearly 1,200 unaccompanied youth don’t have a place to call home. Of that number, more than 80% are unsheltered. The majority of them are male between the ages of 18 and 24, and the recent census shows roughly 300 are under 18-years-old.

“That’s a scary statistic to see that,” Moore said. “A lot of them are runaways, a lot of them don’t want to be home or are kicked out.”

Moore says many are apprehensive in asking for help, but adds this new homeless ordinance may benefit them.

“The good thing is hopefully it will put a light on the problem,” Moore said.

The City of Las Vegas does welcome homeless youth at the courtyard, a city-funded facility. While there, youth along with others can connect to services.

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