LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Midnight marks the start of enforcement for a controversial homeless ordinance from the City of Las Vegas. It bans anyone from sleeping or camping on sidewalks if shelter beds are available.
8 News Now talked with police Friday about how exactly enforcement will work.
Homeless people found on sidewalks, could get arrested if they break the rules, but Metro police tell 8 News Now they’re not focusing on arrests. They’re echoing what the city has been saying from the beginning — they are trying to help.
But homeless people say they feel like they are being attacked by the city’s new controversial ordinance.
“They want to make it like everybody is expendable to be thrown away, or something,” said Lot Thomas, who is homeless. “It is what it is.”
Those breaking the rules could get arrested, which means potential jail time and fines up to $1,000. Metro police say their priority is not to put people behind bars.
“I think there’s a misconception that there’s going to be a team of officers out roaming the streets and trying to take people into custody for being homeless, and that is not the case,” Said Metro officer Aiden O’Campo-Gomez. “If somebody is belligerent, they’re under the influence, then some enforcement might be taking place at that point, but our focus is to get them off the streets, get them the help that they need.”
Metro says their homeless outreach team will continue connecting the homeless to resources. But many shelters, such as The Salvation Army, say they’re already at capacity and there’s only so much they can do.
“Now, for example, if we are completely full in the shelter, then we do offer to check other shelters and see what’s available as well,” said Juan Salinas of the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada.
The city plans to use a text alert system to communicate with shelters and the police about bed availability. It’s supposed to be updated every two hours.
Data shows that there are about 1,300 shelter beds total in Las Vegas.