On the days she couldn’t find a place to stay for the night, Tayanna Herrell and her four children would camp out on top of a playground area at Doolittle Park or other nearby neighborhood parks.
Herrell, her two 5 year olds, a 4 year old and a 2 year old began experiencing homelessness when she left an abusive partner in early 2020 just as the pandemic began to rage.
Turned away by family and friends, parks were often the safest and only option most nights.
“I kept blankets there all day if I could,” she said. “But you can’t sleep. You just have to watch the kids sleep. And during the day you can’t sleep because you want to figure out how to help yourself and your kids. It was exhausting. Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.”
During a late afternoon bus ride back to the park, Herrell happened to see a sign for HELP of Southern Nevada and vaguely remembered hearing about the organization as a place that might be able to offer assistance.
She gathered her children, got off the bus and walked into the lobby moments before it was scheduled to close. After Herrell said her family didn’t have a place to sleep that night, an emergency crew showed up and drove them to a Budget Suites where they stayed for the next few months while Herrell worked on getting stable.
“I was in shock. I was crying,” she said. “The first thing I did was give everyone a hot bath and then cook something on the stove. As tired as I was, I sat awake after the kids went to sleep because I couldn’t believe it.”
With a roof over their heads, Herrell was finally able to search for and gain employment and transitioned into a