LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Banned from sleeping on the streets, some homeless people in Las Vegas said they don’t know where to turn. A valley nonprofit wants to help.
The CARE Complex has a program that goes beyond providing basic necessities. The nonprofit is in the center of the homeless corridor on Foremaster Lane.
“I came with nothing,” Ernest Witherspoon said. He said he came to Las Vegas in 2017, making the trip from Philadelphia. “I had no where else to go, it was tough."
Witherspoon said he found temporary work pretty quickly, but no place to stay. He would sleep in the park. He made some friends, but they didn’t want to live on the streets either.
“Some of them moved to different states,” Witherspoon said. “And they were like, ‘Ernest, you want to go to Seattle, Utah, California?’ I was like, ‘I want to stay here because if I move there, it’s going to be the same thing.’”
Witherspoon didn’t have to go very far. He walked across the street to the CARE Complex. Not only does the nonprofit serve food, it helps people who are starting at square one: getting their IDs, social security cards and birth certificates.
“We have lockers so you don't have to bring everything you own with you,” Brittany Corder, director of the CARE Complex, said.
The space also offers resources including computers and professional clothes.
“You get beat down so many times that it's really easy to lose hope so just being here and having one barrier removed like bus passes, that can be huge for somebody,” Corder said.
Other places turn him away. But the CARE Complex gave Witherspoon bus passes. Within a year, he joined a union and now works at a solar farm.
Then the nonprofit wrote him a check to help him start paying rent.
“I had no help,” Witherspoon said. “But when I came up here, I didn't believe it until it happened until they wrote me that check that they'll pay for the apartment and the rest is history.”
Last year, the CARE Complex helped more than 40 people get into affordable homes. Along with the services inside, the CARE Complex also has the only water fountain on Foremaster Lane, which is vital during the hot summers.
FOX5 also asked employees and volunteers at the CARE Complex if they’ve seen any changes since the City of Las Vegas began enforcing two new laws. One is meant to keep city streets clean. The other makes it illegal for homeless people to sleep on the sidewalks, as long as there are available beds at the shelters.
Corder said she hasn’t noticed much of a difference on Foremaster Lane. But they have seen less clients, who are choosing to stay closer to their temporary jobs outside city limits to avoid fines or jail time.
“It’s a lot easier to stay on that side of town and sleep wherever they can find sleep,” she said. “A lot of people working overnights can't utilize shelters with their work hours. For that population, I do worry that will affect them. If they incur the fine or end up in prison, that's just another huge barrier and we've lost everything we've worked on for the last month.”