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Report: Homelessness increasing as rent in Las Vegas skyrockets

Salvation Army Ryan McDonald .jpg
Posted at 11:45 PM, Dec 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 02:58:53-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Rent prices in Las Vegas are on the rise as more apartment complexes are added across the valley.

"I remember I had an apartment out in Summerlin. And when I was renting it had a mountain view and everything. It cost me $750. Now that same apartment is like $1,200," Ryan McDonald said.

That was seven years ago for McDonald. Now, he works as the Homeless Services Coordinator for Salvation Army of Southern Nevada.

"Without affordable housing we are always going to have an epidemic of homelessness, " McDonald said.

Zillow research estimated more than 7,000 people were homeless In Las Vegas, which is higher than the official government count.

The study was in collaboration with researchers at the University of New Hampshire, Boston University School of Social Work and University of Pennsylvania.

Zillow collects research and data on housing trends across the country.

Most experts say rent should never be more than 30 percent of your monthly income. It's known as the rent burden.

A new study found homelessness goes up when the rent burden is over 32 percent. The rent burden in Las Vegas is at 34 percent.

McDonald said it's a huge stumbling block for families with minimum wage jobs and people simply trying to get on their feet.

Rent assistance programs usually come from grants which may only cover a deposit or a first month of rent - making it hard to maintain a residence.

"If that money is gone, then 90 percent of the time they are going to end up on the street," McDonald said.

The key to addressing homelessness is affordable housing which for many remains in short supply, according to McDonald.