The Great Recession is wreaking havoc upon some residents of our City. Astronomical home foreclosure rates, combined with record high unemployment, are pushing more of our fellow Las Vegans out of their homes...and into the streets.
Just as more people are finding themselves needing a helping hand to get through these harsh economic times, government budgets are being cut. The government is stretched beyond its limit. There are no longer sufficient emergency resources to help all those temporarily unemployed. People who have never needed help before, teachers, skilled laborers, and professionals that have always been steadily employed are astonished to find themselves without a job. This newly unemployed class is finding themselves down on their luck for the first time, with no end in sight. We are referring to responsible and educated folks with great work history, not people battling mental illness or hopelessly strung out on alcohol or drug addictions.
The new face of homelessness in Las Vegas
The new face of homelessness is the person next door (before their home went into foreclosure) and could have been your neighbor or old co-worker, or even the cashier who sold you the daily newspaper at your corner gas station. Maybe it's your brother, your daughter's elementary school teacher, or a friend. Many of those now in transitional or unstable housing, once had a nest egg, got up every day and went to work and provided a nice living for their families. But as luck would have it, they entered in a mortgage they didn't really understand, didn't realize they couldn't afford, all at a time when companies starting cutting back and employees began receiving pink slips in lieu of holiday bonuses and annual raises.
To give you an idea of the rampant increase in need right here in the Las Vegas Valley: the county's budget for emergency rental and other financial assistance is $3.8 million this year—two years ago, the county spent $12 million. Emergency rental assistance was a vital safety net for many county residents who found themselves temporarily without shelter. They would receive a temporary stipend of $400 a month to keep them and their families off of the streets. It would pay for a hotel room until they could find another job, for instance. Now that more people than ever are finding themselves hanging their head in shame, humbled by their lack of options, and asking for help...they are being turned away. Thousands of men, women, and children are sleeping on the street and hiding out in people's backyards, or in vacant storefronts, because they were told the shelter had no room to take them in for the night and all the emergency aid assistance has been exhausted due to an explosion of applicants in need.
Downtown is home to many of the Las Vegas Homeless
Most of our Las Vegas homeless, about 29 percent, are centered around Downtown. They gather downtown, creating a booming skid row, because a majority of the social programs and aid resources are distributed there. But, the homeless can be found all over the Valley. Even far beneath the boulevards you and I walk every day, 20 feet below the decadence and glitz of the Strip casinos, in the storm tunnels that snake for over 200 miles in an underground maze designed to funnel flood water run-off. They set up makeshift beds that often end up soaked or disappear in the current during heavy rains. The inhabits of the storm drains cannot even stand upright in their "homes", but at least they have a reprieve from the unrelenting heat and the hostile stares of those who do not yet realize that a person can do all the right things, and due to a tragic twist of fate and the worst recession in recent history, end up without a permanent and safe place to call home.
Some of our invisible homeless are in temporary housing, hustling to find work before their stay is up. They may be couch surfing, relying on the generosity of friends or family. Week days around 3 pm you will see the most vulnerable and innocent of our homeless population dismount their yellow school bus when it pulls in front of the Budge Suites. There are so many families without stable homes living in hotel rooms, that our school transportation system now includes a few hotels on their scheduled routes.
When we stand together we can help prevent homelessness in Las Vegas
Homelessness in Las Vegas is a growing problem. We all need to step up and help each other in these trying times. The new homeless are children in school, responsible and hardworking citizens, people that did all the right things they were always told they should do to have a successful and bright future. If we pull together as a community to get through these hard times, our city will be stronger, more unified, and more compassionate because of it.
Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Las Vegas, Nevada / July 9 - 12, 2013
Appreciative Inquiry is a collaborative, strengths-based
25 May - 29 May
31 May - 07 Jun
08 Jun - 19 Jun
09 Jul - 12 Jul
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