All around the world, Las Vegas is famous for being a vibrant, larger-than-life city where anything is possible. Drawn by the allure of quick profit and a good time, millions of tourists arrive each year to gamble, explore the nightlife, and soak in the sights.
But beneath the veneer of glamor, there’s a dark side to this iconic destination. Homelessness runs rampant in Las Vegas, and the scale of the issue currently outweighs the resources for help. It’s easy to view the eradication of homelessness as an impossible task.
While the challenges of homelessness are difficult and multi-faceted, there are solutions. And while no solution is guaranteed to completely solve homelessness, there is much potential for improving lives and getting people back on their feet.
Statistics on Las Vegas Homelessness
All kinds of people live on the streets of Las Vegas. Some are locals who ran into hard times and simply couldn’t afford rising rent prices. Others are tourists who lost all their money, spiraling into gambling and drug addiction. Still others suffer from mental illness and can’t hold a job down.
According to the 2021 Homeless Point-In-Time Count & Survey, it is estimated that over 5,000 people are experiencing homelessness on a given day in southern Nevada. Over 12,000 individuals experienced homelessness at some point in 2021. The bulk of that population lives in and around Las Vegas, and 55% of them remain unsheltered at night.
Some believe these numbers to be a conservative estimate. Many homeless people live invisible lives, avoiding point-in-time counts. Others sleep in their cars or couchsurf.
The Pahrump Times reports that Nevada as a state has 23.3 homeless people for every 10,000 residents, which is higher than the national average of 17.3 per 10,000. Although homelessness numbers have decreased from 2007 to 2019, experts predict a spike in homelessness in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Las Vegas Tunnels
If you’ve heard anything about homelessness in Las Vegas, you’ve probably heard about the infamous Las Vegas tunnels. As one article explains, although Las Vegas is located in a desert, heavy rainfall in the monsoon season causes major flash flooding. To deal with this problem, a vast network of drainage tunnels was constructed beneath the city. Despite the damp conditions, many of Las Vegas’ homeless population call these tunnels home.
But living in the sewers doesn’t come without danger. Those who make their camp in the pitch black tunnels put their lives and belongings at risk. Most years there is at least one death by drowning.
On top of the dangerous floods, the sewers are a hotbed of crime, making them an unpleasant place to live in more than one regard. Those who out of desperation call the tunnels home often seek shelter from the hot Nevada sun during the day. At night they emerge to panhandle or try their luck in the casinos. Many even keep suits in the sewers so as not to appear homeless when they enter casinos.
Potential Solutions To Homelessness
Providing housing is the simple answer to the issue of homelessness. Those without homes need a reliable shelter to live in while they get back on their feet. This can look like temporary housing during a time of transition out of homelessness, or it can look like permanent housing for those most vulnerable.
On top of this, readily available mental health and addiction services are crucial for those struggling in these areas. And finally, programs to help increase income are needed. This encapsulates career training, financial management, and services to mitigate expenses such as child care.
How The Alliance Foundation Helps
Due to Covid-19, many homeless shelters in Las Vegas are experiencing staff and volunteer shortages. This means the shelters can’t operate at full potential, and as a result, less of the homeless population is taken care of. In a place where the amount of homelessness is overwhelming, shelters play an incredibly important role in caring for this vulnerable population.
The Alliance Foundation partners with local shelters to provide needed resources. We also provide direct housing stipends for qualifying individuals. Our goal is to help everyone have a stable roof over their head, no matter their social status.
How You Can Help
Together we can make a difference and change homelessness in Las Vegas!