$8.2M in ARPA funds to go towards fighting homelessness in Las Vegas

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 8:13 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The homeless population in Las Vegas is getting help in the form of $8.2 million in American Rescue Plan funding.

City Council approved that infusion of cash from the $131 million it was given by the federal government in 2021.

Kathi Thomas, Director of Neighborhood Services for the city, will oversee how that money is spent.

“We help people navigate systems so they can get their birth certificates, their IDs,” Thomas said. “If they need connection to health care, we’ve got health care on site.”

The money will also go toward making more affordable housing out of what’s already available. One apartment complex is getting $141,360 to turn 10 of its units into transitional housing.

“What we’d like to see is more people who are experiencing homelessness get employed with living wage jobs and back on the path to living the life they really want to live,” Thomas said.

There’s always a need for more funding of those efforts, Thomas adds.

“We need significantly more so we can scale up existing programs and also fill in some gaps,” she said.

Beyond government services, there’s an organization working to reduce the homeless population in the Valley in a different way.

“We provide food, clothing, school supplies and hygiene products,” said Kelli Kristo, director of Project 150. “All for free.”

In addition to those services, Project 150 provides financial literacy courses for kids who grow up in tough circumstances.

“They show up to school every single day,” Kristo said. “They want to graduate. They want to be with their peers. They want a better life for themselves and so they’re willing to do whatever it takes despite those hardships.”

Kristo’s long-term goal is to make it so the next generation has the financial know-how to keep themselves off the streets.

“If we tackle it now and give them the tools and the resources, we won’t have such a high adult homeless population,” Kristo explained.

While the fruits of Kristo’s labor bear out over the years, Thomas’ programs will now get a boost in providing help to adults who need immediate help. Thomas says part of the reason those services are so direly needed is that people can be blindsided with homelessness and don’t know where to turn for help.

“I ask folks all the time, ‘If we dropped you in the middle of the homeless corridor, would you know what to do next,?’” she said. “And the answer is usually no.”

Las Vegas has until the end of next year to spend its rescue plan money.