LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — During a long and heated meeting, the City of Las Vegas created fines and possible jail time for sleeping on the streets. Local shelters spoke out on how they’re dealing with the ordinance starting Saturday.
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada stays busy trying to accommodate as many people who need a shelter bed.
“We had 500 plus men in our shelter last night. We are near capacity every night,” said Deacon Tom Roberts, president and CEO of Catholic Charities.
Roberts disapproves of forcing someone to find a shelter bed, as required in the new City of Las Vegas homeless ordinance. It makes sleeping or camping in public places a misdemeanor with a possible fine, but the code is suspended if all shelters reach capacity.
“I’m not exactly sure how they expect this to work when there’s already more demand than there is supply,” he said.
Data from the last homeless county shows roughly 5,500 on the streets and only about 1,300 shelter beds, an issue that shelters plan to address with the city.
“If there is something we can do, then we’ll definitely do something to help,” said Salvation Army director of social services Juan Salinas.
The Salvation Army already fills most of the roughly 100 beds in the free shelter. The organization can house an additional 110 people in the building, but only on mats during emergency situations. Staff don’t know if the city will ask them to make it available permanently going forward.
“If that is something that is needed, that’s something we can discuss with the city,” Salinas stated.
The City of Las Vegas plans to review additional locations for shelter needs. The criminal provisions of the ordinance won’t start until Feb. 1.