[Hpn] Homeless get eviction notices;Las Vegas

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Tue, 26 Jun 2001 09:51:46 -0400


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-------Forwarded article-------

Tuesday, June 26, 2001
Las Vegas Review-Journal <http://www.lvrj.com/>
[Nevada]
Homeless get eviction notices
<http://www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/2001/Jun-26-Tue-2001/news/16403355.html>

Police tell about 80 encamped north of downtown to leave by Friday

By JULIET V. CASEY
REVIEW-JOURNAL


About 80 homeless people living in a makeshift encampment north of downtown 
Las Vegas got written notice from police Monday that they must leave by 
Friday.

City officials for several weeks have warned that the camp would have to be 
cleared because it is unsanitary and because the landowner, William Smith of 
Boulder City, wants the homeless people off his property.

Last month Smith received an abatement notice from the city Neighborhood 
Services Department demanding that he clear "all vagrant camps" or face 
misdemeanor citations. Smith about two weeks ago signed a trespass agreement 
with police, granting them the authority to roust the homeless from his 
land.

"We just can't have them living there in totally unsanitary conditions," 
Smith said. "I feel sorry for them, but this (encampment) is not the 
answer."

Campers who have made the tent city their home said Monday they would leave, 
but many still did not know where they would be staying after Friday. They 
said the city has failed to provide them a reasonable alternative, 
especially because area shelters are running at capacity.

"If every shelter place is all filled up and you ain't got no money, where 
are you supposed to go?" Ed Stukovsky said. "Jail, I guess."

Marcus Johnson said he would take his things and camp in front of City Hall 
because "being out of sight and out of mind hasn't been good enough for 
them."

The camp sits along Union Pacific railroad tracks between Washington and 
Owens avenues just east of an industrial area and west of the homeless 
corridor on Main Street. The area was once home to about 200 people, of whom 
fewer than 100 remain.

Kendall Wiley, an officer in the Police Department's Homeless Evaluation 
Liaison Program, said that even though the campers have been given warning, 
she worries they won't be as safe roaming the streets.

The HELP program started in 1992 as a way to deal with the law-abiding 
homeless.

"I see a few smaller camps growing over an open lot by the Clark County 
building," Wiley said.

"They are dispersing into smaller groups, where they potentially will be 
more victimized. Here at the tracks they had safety in numbers -- more 
safety than if they were by themselves in the street."

Wiley said she would help get as many people as possible off Smith's land 
before the Friday deadline. After that, a Transitional Living Communities 
crew will clear remaining tents.

The city's Rapid Response Team is expected to finish clearing garbage from 
the site Monday.

City officials about three weeks ago commissioned the Salvation Army to 
interview people at the camp to find out what services they need and urge 
them to seek help at nearby shelters.

Duane Sonnenberg, Salvation Army homeless services administrator, said 
Monday that shelter employees interviewed about 150 people. About 40 went to 
the shelter for anything from showers and laundry services to job placement 
programs.

"Our response was to assist the city in making sure they (tent city campers) 
had all the information they needed as to what services were available for 
them," Sonnenberg said.

City spokeswoman Andrea Smith said "every effort was made to place people 
who wanted to be placed."

Smith said homelessness is a problem the city is trying to address 
regionally. She said the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition is 
building a task force to spearhead a homelessness summit in September.

North Las Vegas, the closest neighbor to the problem, has given more than 
$96,000 of its federal grants since 1995 to homeless shelters to contribute 
to a regional solution, spokeswoman Brenda Johnson said.

Former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones, who made the homeless corridor a priority 
during her two terms, said scattering the homeless who have camped near 
centralized services does little to solve the problem, though she agreed it 
should be addressed regionally.

"You need one central area where the homeless know where to go and how to 
get to services to help themselves," Jones said. "But you also need 
governments working together in collaboration to craft a solution, not just 
get rid of the problem. By kicking out the homeless, they (city officials) 
haven't fixed the problem -- haven't even addressed the problem. They are 
just kidding themselves into thinking they've been decisive."

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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA


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