LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — 8 News Now has been following concerns about Las Vegas’ encampment ordinance, which aims at getting the city’s homeless population connected with services. The law was approved back in November, but starting Saturday, criminal penalties will be issued to violators.
City officials say the intention is not to round up the homeless and send them to jail; it’s to make sure people get services they need to change their lives.
The City of Las Vegas spends $2.7 million a year cleaning up after the homeless.
“The encampments are really, really unsanitary there’s a potential for great overwhelming disease issues,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said.
Juan Salinas is the director of social services for the Salvation Army; he has mixed feelings about this ordinance.
“It’s an ordinance the Salvation Army is here day in and day out to provide the services that we can with the beds that are available,” Salinas said.
On February 1, the city will enforce the ordinance, banning homeless from sleeping on the streets when shelter beds are available.
The fine is $1,000 or six months in jail.
“We have actually three of our employees that work with them; team with the city that goes out on the streets and talk to the homeless to give them resources,” said Salinas.
Monday morning, those outreach case managers were on the streets.
“There’s homeless people out there; there’s a lot of mental illness there’s, some that will choose to come in, and some will choose not to come in,” Salinas said.
Salinas’ is concerned that within the first hour and a half, their shelter will be full, so they will need to communicate with other shelters for availability.
“We get a text message and email from the city as well that we need to respond every two hours, how many beds we have available,” according to Salinas.
The ordinance will be in effect from 6 p.m. until 4 a.m.
“It’s kinda harsh, but it’s the law, but I don’t think we have enough beds available,” Salinas said.
If there aren’t any shelter beds available, the ordinance will be suspended.