[Hpn] Carson City, NV - State to release frozen funds for homeless pilot project - Las Vegas Sun - July 08, 2002

H. C. Covington H. C. Covington" <icanamerica@bellsouth.net
Tue, 09 Jul 2002 04:52:10 -0500


State to release frozen funds for homeless pilot project
[$500,000 for a pilot project to find and treat the mentally ill homeless in
Southern Nevada.
The governor is sensitive to the homeless issue]
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By Cy Ryan - Las Vegas Sun - July 08, 2002

CARSON CITY, NV -- After a firm push from state legislators, Gov. Kenny Guinn's
administration has decided to release $500,000 for a pilot project to find and
treat the mentally ill homeless in Southern Nevada.

The state Human Resources Department initially decided to freeze the money to
help cure the $200 million deficit facing the state this biennium.

Department Director Mike Willden said a request for proposals will be released
this week so companies and organizations can bid for the contract to provide
services for the mentally ill homeless.

The 2001 Legislature, which provided the $500,000, estimated there were more
than 7,000 adults homeless in Southern Nevada and that more than 31 percent of
them "have severe and persistent mental illness."

The state announced it would not start the program as scheduled in July because
of the budget shortfall, but the Legislative Interim Finance Committee last
month told Guinn it wanted the project to go forward.

"The IFC sent a message," Willden said. "I don't know that the message was
needed. The governor is sensitive to the homeless issue."

Assemblywomen Sandra Tiffany, R-Henderson, and Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, led the
criticism of the decision to freeze the money. Neither could be reached for
comment.

Willden said he hopes to get approval for the contract from the state Board of
Examiners by its Sept. 10 meeting

The company that wins the contract will be responsible for everything, said
Willden -- finding housing, getting medications and directing those eligible to
appropriate programs.

If the state has a bed vacancy in its program in Southern Nevada, it will accept
those who are found by the contractor. But Willden said that was unlikely.

"We're already bursting at the seams," Willden said.

Willden said he wants to get the project off the ground so it can gather
information to present to the 2003 Legislature, which convenes in February. The
pilot project won't generate enough information for Guinn to include in his
budget, Willden said.

But Willden said the department is working on some new programs.

He also said Tiffany has indicated she may sponsor her own bill in the 2003
session. He said she is interested in data from the pilot program because of the
question on the Clark County ballot about increasing the property tax to take
care of the homeless. The information gathered in the pilot project could help
decide where that money might be spent.

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