Oct. 12, 2022 - To help foster an environment of safety along the Las Vegas Strip and in response to an increase in homelessness, Clark County is adding a special team of social workers to partner with the Metropolitan Police Department to engage with those suffering from homelessness, mental health or substance abuse issues and to connect them with needed services, including housing and wraparound services.
The special team of social workers, called a CARE Team, connect residents in crisis with programs and services such as addiction and mental health treatment, counseling and housing assistance. Two teams will be dedicated to the Las Vegas Strip and a third will be located at UMC. The County is currently hiring for these positions. In the interim, existing County CARE Teams are being deployed to the Strip to better address the need.
“The CARE Teams brings those who may be suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues to the programs and services they need,” Commission Chairman Jim Gibson said. “We have seen these teams work elsewhere in Clark County and believe they are part of the solution to ensuring public safety on the Strip and across our community. The Las Vegas Strip is not an adequate place for those facing these types of issues to live, and in dedicating CARE Teams resources to the resort corridor we will help address the need while fostering an environment of safety for our visitors, residents, and the thousands of employees who work in the hotel properties. And most importantly, they will help these individuals to get the help they need.”
“LVMPD and our partners strive to establish non-traditional policing endeavors to identify solutions for significant social disorders that cannot be solved through enforcement, arrest, incarceration, and prosecution alone,” Metro Police Capt. Roxanne Burke said. “This team will provide a stronger focus on long-term solutions to many behavioral, societal, and mental concerns felt by our citizens. Together, they will meet with clients, conduct assessments, and provide treatment plans.”
The County put CARE Teams in place three years ago to address the needs of some of our most vulnerable residents. Currently, these teams focus on helping individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and another team partners with Metro Police to respond to individuals who need intervention to address mental health or substance abuse issues.
To best identify and serve the needs of this vulnerable population, the County oversaw an assessment of homeless and other individuals located on or around Las Vegas Boulevard or in the flood control tunnels from Sahara Avenue to Russell Road. About 840 homeless individuals were found to be on the Strip in the late afternoon and early evenings, and about 40 people were found in the tunnels during the mornings. An outreach event was held shortly after the assessment, which served about 65 individuals.
Subsequent assessments will be used to adjust outreach efforts to make sure the County is allocating resources in a manner that best meets the needs of the individuals who need assistance and keeps the public safe.
Part of serving this population includes ensuring there is an adequate amount of temporary housing to get them off the street and this has taken a dedicated focus by the County. Overall, Clark County has served more than 6,000 individuals including families within the past 18 months by providing funding to congregate and non-congregate shelters and services for the homeless.
To rapidly address the rising number of homeless individuals during COVID, the County quickly and innovatively initiated a program to contract unused hotel and motel rooms for those in transition from homelessness with wraparound services. The County has continued and will continue this program and is currently providing 531 rooms with wrap around services for families, the medically vulnerable, and those who need an assisted living setting. A total of 2,329 individuals were served through these various sites from March 15, 2020 to March 31, 2022.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 11th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to 2.3 million citizens and 45.6 million visitors a year (2019). Included are the nation’s 7th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to 1 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.