Southern Nevada faces a $342 million annual shortfall to effectively tackle a homelessness crisis that regional officials continue to fear will be worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report heard by county and city lawmakers this week.
Now begins an ambitious new effort: Working together to secure the money at a time when a public health crisis will also require serious financial attention.
Local government and social service leaders, who prepared the report with community involvement, studied strategies to reduce homelessness in a dozen meetings in the past year. And they suggested potential funding sources to close the gap, including a tax or fee on professional sporting events or new housing construction.
It was a multi-jurisdictional effort required by the state Legislature, which gutted a bill last year to boost funding for homeless services in the city of Las Vegas and, in exchange, called for local leaders to collaboratively address the regional problem. More than 6,000 people on any given night in the region are estimated to be experiencing homelessness, an issue expected to be intensified by the pandemic.
“We did identify during this process, with the pandemic, we expect to see a significant spike over the next six to 12 months in homelessness due to all the impacts we’re seeing to households in Southern Nevada,” Las Vegas City Manager Scott Adams said when he presented the report to the City Council on Wednesday.
State lawmakers relied upon
The report shows the region is lacking 78,000 affordable housing rental units. But the $342 million shortfall for Year 1, identified by Las Vegas-based research consultant Applied Analysis, also included other elements to homelessness such as mental health, addiction and case management.
“We have to increase our housing supply, but if we don’t consider the other aspects that go along