LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Many people living on the streets of Las Vegas don’t know what they’re going to do, as city officials and Metro police begin enforcing a controversial homeless ordinance.
More specifically, Las Vegas City Council passed two related laws in 2019. Both ban people from sleeping or camping on public sidewalks or streets when shelter beds are available.
8 News Now spoke with Nathaniel Henry Friday evening. The 21-year-old calls streets lined with tents, tarps and trash home.
“I’m usually the one who looks over things,” Henry said. “My auntie stays here. I usually sleep on a little mat right next to her.”
Henry has been homeless for seven years. Though some days are difficult, he hopes to hold onto his freedom.
“I just told my brother,” Henry added. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what happens, I’m sticking by his side.”
Henry is one of so many affected, as Las Vegas Metropolitan Police hit the streets to enforce the new laws.
“The whole focus is to assist people,” LVMPD Officer Aiden O’Campo-Gomez said of their actions. “With the help of other service providers and get them off the streets.”
Officers told 8 News Now while arrests and fines could be imposed, they’re focused on helping people find resources first.
“If somebody thinks we’re going to be out there doing raids they’re going to be disappointed,” Officer O’Campo-Gomez added. “Because that’s not what we’re about.”
City officials said this is the right move, but people like Nathaniel told 8 News Now it won’t work for everyone.
“I can’t bring myself to go to a shelter,” he explained. “It’s more their structured way of living rather than free will.”
No matter what happens, he wants to decide the direction his life takes.
“People have the right to choose,” Henry concluded. “And it’s up to them at the end of the day.”
The city plans to use a text alert system to let police know how many shelter beds are available. It’s set to update every two hours.
Data shows Las Vegas has about 1,300 beds available total.
To view The City of Las Vegas Homeless Resource Page, click HERE.