LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A man who calls himself the homeless healthcare worker camped outside city hall ahead of Wednesday's vote on a controversial proposed homeless ordinance.
“[Homeless people] can’t afford to live,” George Allen said. "A fine of $1,000? Where are they going to get that?”
The proposed ordinance would make it a misdemeanor crime for a person to camp or sleep in public when an established shelter has available space. A spokesperson with the city said it would not enforce the ordinance when shelters are full.
Allen, who is a home healthcare worker, is also homeless. He gets paid $11 per hour to help clients with tasks like getting dressed and eating. He said he has not been able to recover since the 2008 housing market crash.
“I lost my housing,” Allen said. “I’ve been trying to bounce back but I have a disabled son.”
Allen is also juggling health issues including diabetes. His son is taken care of by the state.
The goal of the proposed ordinance is to stifle the growing number of homeless campers in the area. However, critics of the measure, including homeless people and 2020 presidential hopefuls, say shelters are already overcrowded -- among other issues.
“Not everyone can get a mat to sleep and we’re in a facility outside,” homeless courtyard guest Ashley Sumling said. “There really are overcrowding issues especially for the men. I’ve seen them sleep on rocks.”
The city estimates that it spends about $35 million each year on homeless-related costs including shelters, clean-up, and public safety.