As the regional provider of indigent and homeless services, every year Clark County oversees more than $76 million for services such as emergency homeless shelters, transitional and permanent housing programs, and indigent nursing home care.
This includes $12 million in marijuana-fee revenue the County Commission directed to help the homeless through programs that will increase the number of beds available to homeless families, youth, and the medically fragile. This funding is separate from state marijuana revenues being directed toward education.
Additionally, the Commission has supported affordable housing developments and directed County staff to establish several programs that will create incentives for new affordable housing developments and preserve existing affordable housing for very low-income households. The lack of affordable housing in Southern Nevada greatly affects those working to escape homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless.
Today, approximately 5,300 people are homeless in Southern Nevada on any given night, and more than 14,000 individuals here will experience homelessness at least once during the year.
County taxpayers directly provide approximately $39 million annually to support programs and services for the homeless and those at-risk of becoming homeless. Additional funding for local programs comes through state and federal grants, including about $14 million a year in federal grants through the Southern Nevada Homelessness Continuum of Care (CoC). (The County supports the activities of the CoC, including coordinating the grant application.) Organizations supported by CoC funds include the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, St. Jude's Ranch for Children, and the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada and many others.
During Fiscal Year 2019, more than 25,000 individuals were assessed and provided services by Clark County, including 22,000 individuals who were assessed for housing services, 13,000 who received housing support and case management, and 500 individuals who were provided with transportation to communities in other states to reunify with family support systems.
In addition, the County and our community partners support various housing and shelter and programs that provide about 2,000 beds for homeless individuals every day, plus housing for 3,300 people who would likely otherwise be homeless.
But while there have been were many successes, there is still more work to be done.
To bolster efforts to address homelessness, County Commissioners decided to provide up to $12 million in annual revenue from marijuana business license fees for homeless programs and services. (This funding is separate from the revenue from marijuana taxes and fees collected by the state, which is used to fund education.)
The specific approvals included:
- On May 7, 2019, the commissioners approved spending $1.8 million to support an additional 76 beds at the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center, plus 60 supportive housing beds for homeless individuals with medical issues who are being discharged from a hospital. So far, 57 youth have been helped thanks to this funding, and their average stay at the Youth Center has been 29 days.
- On June 18, 2019, the commissioners approved spending $6.1 million to provide rental assistance, case management, financial assistance and supportive services for 180 families. Already, 65 families have been assisted with these services.
- On July 2, 2019, the commissioners approved spending an additional $260,000 to fund a third County-funded homeless outreach team.
- On Oct. 15, 2019, the commission approved $50,000 for a family diversion pilot program.
The traditional funding for homeless services includes direct support of various programs provided by local non-profits such as the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, St. Jude's Ranch for Children, Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada, and The Shade Tree.
The County also provides funding for significant one-time projects, such as new construction, that will enhance the services available to the homeless and those at-risk of becoming homeless.
For example, in 2018, the County provided $2.4 million to Catholic Charities so they could expand their food pantry and renovate their kitchen, enabling the organization to significantly increase the number of meals they can provide.
The goal of all these efforts is to prevent homelessness when we can and help those who are currently homeless get back on their feet. The initial focus of the additional support is for families with children, youth and the medically fragile. Programs aimed at other sub-populations are expected.
Already, our community has seen success in fighting homelessness among veterans. In 2015, the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development confirmed that Southern Nevada had functionally ended veteran homelessness. This means the Southern Nevada community has built a robust service system, and episodes of veteran homelessness in most cases are rare, brief, and non-recurring.