LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Homelessness has increased in Las Vegas and across the nation according to preliminary numbers from the 2022 Homeless Point-In-Time Count & Survey.
An analysis of the 20 communities nationwide with the highest rates of homelessness showed Las Vegas with the eighth-highest increase over the past two years — almost 7%. The nationwide analysis showed Sacramento with the highest increase, nearly 70%, according to analysis by The Associated Press.
Nationwide, homelessness is up almost 3% according to the preliminary numbers.
Kristen Aviles is the director of Client Services at HopeLink of Southern Nevada, a nonprofit organization preventing homelessness through rapid housing.
“We get hundreds of calls a day from people looking for rental assistance or emergency shelter,” Aviles said. “We do have capacity of how much we can accept at any given time, so we try to take 50 per day for rental assistance and we have a waiting list for emergency shelter about 50 people or families in our waiting program.”
Aviles said she has seen a mix of homeless Nevadans and transplants come through their doors. She said many people who need help don’t know the resources available and many agencies are at capacity because of the high demand. Between inflation, high rent and unemployment, Aviles anticipates more people to become homeless.
The Las Vegas “point-in-time” count that was taken on Feb. 23, 2022, shows there were 362 more homeless people compared to the 2020 count. The 2022 count found 5,645 homeless people in the Las Vegas area. The point-in-time count is used to estimate the number of people who will experience homelessness in the community at some point during the year: 13,972.
The annual count in 2021 didn’t follow the same methods because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts say the 2021 figure — 5,083 — was based on a random sample, and shouldn’t be used in making year-to-year comparisons.
Homeless advocates said a number of issues can contribute to homelessness including unemployment, substance abuse and mental health issues.
Lakiesha Oliver, a clinician from mental health service Solutions of Change, said mental health factors are not the same in every case.
“We recognize the connection between homelessness and mental health concerns is not always black and white,” explained Oliver. “There is a complicated issue, and we have to see each individual and what their needs are based on their specific circumstance.”
It’s a concern following the latest stabbing on the strip which left two people dead.
The man accused, Yoni Barrios found himself homeless and wandering the Strip after leaving California.
The Clark County District Attorney told 8 News Now his mental competency might play a role during his trial.
Homelessness affects far more men than women — 70.7% are male and 28.4% are female, with 0.6% classified as gender non-conforming and 0.2% transgender. And by age, 88% are older than 24.
Racial makeup of the homeless community in Southern Nevada:
- 52% white
- 37% Black or African American
- 1.8% multiple races
- 1.7% American Indian or Alaskan Native
- 2.2% Asian
- 5.4% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
Ethnicity statistics show 15% of the homeless community identifies as Hispanic/Latino and 85% do not.
Statistics for Southern Nevada indicate that 10% of the homeless population have served in the military and 90% are single adults. Families with children make up 9% of the homeless population and 6% are unaccompanied youth.
When the point-in-time count was taken in February, 87% of available beds for homeless people were occupied. Emergency shelters were 91% full and transitional housing was 72% full. The Courtyard Homeless Resource Center on Foremaster Lane completed its expansion about a month before the count was taken this year.
Solutions of Change offers free services available to the community. Click here to learn more: https://solutionsofchange.org/services/
If you need rent or utility help or other assistance, you contact HopeLink here: https://link2hope.org/node/264
The Associated Press contributed to this report.