To better address homelessness and get people off of our streets and sidewalks and into shelters and permanent housing, the Clark County Commissioners recently increased the number of beds available to homeless families, youth and those who are medically fragile.
In all, the new or expanded programs could help provide shelter and housing to more than 700 homeless individuals every day.
These programs are in addition to the existing local services for the homeless and those at-risk of becoming homeless funded by $76 million in grants and direct spending from the County, state and federal governments. These services include indigent nursing home care, homeless outreach teams, and beds in area shelters and emergency housing programs.
Approximately 5,300 people are homeless in Southern Nevada on any given night, and about 13,900 individuals here will experience homelessness at least once during the year.
To address this issue, the commissioners agreed to spend up to $12 million annually in revenue from marijuana business license fees to bolster 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.)
On May 7, 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.
On June 18, the commissioners approved spending $6.1 million to provide rental assistance, case management, financial assistance and supportive services for 180 families.
On July 2, the commissioners approved spending an additional $260,000 to fund a third County-funded homeless outreach team.
Before those recent contracts were approved, the County and our community partners supported a variety of programs such as indigent nursing home care, two homeless outreach teams, and more than 5,300 beds in various housing and shelters and programs. These programs provide shelter to about 2,000 homeless individuals every day, and support housing for 3,300 people who would likely otherwise be homeless.
Typically, the County spends about $50 million annually on programs and services for the homeless, and those at-risk of becoming homeless. Approximately $39 million of this total comes directly from County taxpayers, and the remaining funding comes from various state and federal grant programs.
In addition, nonprofit agencies in Southern Nevada receive 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.
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.
In a related effort, the commissioners recently supported designating 10 parcels in the southwest, currently federal land, for affordable housing development. This is intended to address the significant lack of affordable housing in our community. According to a recent federal study, Clark County's affordable-housing shortage is the second largest in the nation, with only 14 affordable and available homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households.