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Las Vegas expands its homeless outreach program

Posted at 8:33 AM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 18:16:28-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas police and multiple organizations talked about the impact of their homeless outreach program in Las Vegas Thursday.

Homelessness is a huge issue in the valley. Advocates say this is a complicated problem that requires many different types of solutions. But this time multiple organizations band together and they have more resources in their hands.

Jocelyn Buitt-Fisher with the Office of Community Services Administrator in the City of Las Vegas says, "Homelessness doesn't end just because we get off the clock at 3 pm. So we started with one team as a pilot, we expanded to three and now we've added a fourth team."

She's talking about the multi-agency outreach resource engagement or the MORE Team -- composed of multiple local organizations and metro working together to help the homeless transition off the streets. Last week the city council approved its expansion. Right now, the non profit service providers are recruiting positions for the fourth homeless outreach team.

"We had 3 teams and they were running Monday through Friday and that didn't allow us to have weekend coverage so this fourth team is going to allow us to have that weekend coverage that we need."

The city says the expansion has been in the works long before two controversial ordinances were in effect.

Critics say these target the homeless for making it illegal to sit or camp out on public sidewalks during street cleaning hours. Another ordinance making it illegal to camp or sleep on sidewalks if there's space at a homeless shelter in the city of Las Vegas.

But police have made zero arrests since.

Lt. Raul Rodriguez says, "The enforcement part of it is not our focus, our focus is to connect folks with resources and hopefully try to end that cycle of homelessness."

The MORE team says in a year and a half, they've helped over 500 individuals out of homelessness and made contact with at least 13,000 folks in need in the valley.

With more resources available this time, they hope to connect more people to the proper resources.