LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, the valley's largest homeless shelter, said a proposed ordinance aimed at the homeless could pose a security risk at their facility.
“If we have capacity, it creates a security issue a lot of times if we try to put people in here that don’t want to be here,” said Steve Schmitt, COO of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. “Depending on whether they are dealing with an addiction issue and so forth -- we just don’t have the capacity with 525 other guys here to take somebody that doesn’t want to be here and address that person individually.”
If passed, homeless individuals could face a misdemeanor when sleeping on the city streets or sidewalks when beds are still available at the shelters.
Catholic Charities averages 95% capacity. The facility is typically full or near-full on a daily basis.
Las Vegas Rescue Mission is experiencing the same thing. Their facility is 100% full for women, children and single fathers.
On an average day, the Rescue Mission might have about five beds available for single men. The Salvation Army is operating under similar circumstances.
“We are not in favor of the ordinance. If you’re going to site people or not site people for a misdemeanor, all of us are almost always full all the time,” said Schmitt.
Schmitt also said the ordinance does not address mental illness and addiction, which have been blamed as the root causes of homelessness.
“One of the things we commonly refer to as shelters is it’s a life raft. We throw a lot of life rafts in the water. But at some point you have to go upstream and find out why there are so many people in the water,” said Schmitt.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman has said the intention of the ordinance is not to criminalize homelessness, but use it as a deterrent to sleeping on city property.
“We’ve got to get people back to functioning and when they won’t come in for help, how do you do it? So the ordinance is to make the effort to find a way to have the homeless get into the courtyard,” said Goodman.
The Las Vegas City Council is scheduled to discuss the ordinance on Nov. 6 and hear public comment.