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Improvements Considered For The Homeless Corridor

homeless_woman.jpg

(AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta)

A woman who refused to give her name and said only that she was "too tired from moving around so much," sits Monday, March 25, 2002, in a new homeless encampment in Las Vegas.

The Corridor of Hope is facing a redesign. The area, sometimes referred to as the "homeless corridor," is a cluster of social services concentrated in Downtown Las Vegas on Foremaster Lane.

The City of Las Vegas has held talks with advocates and stakeholders to figure out how to improve safety, sanitation and general well-being in the area.

Emily Paulsen is the executive director of Nevada Homeless Alliance. She said homelessness is not a small problem in Nevada. The annual homelessness count puts the population at 30,000 people a year experiencing homeless in Southern Nevada. 

Those numbers include people who are working but not making enough to pay for housing, unemployed, victims of domestic violence, families and unaccompanied youth. 

"Homelessness impacts many people in Southern Nevada and there are many faces to homelessness," she said.

Paulsen said about 500 people are currently on the waiting list for permanent supportive housing, which means besides just getting a roof over their head, they get access to the services they need to stay in that home.

Rick Van Diepen is working on the problem of street homelessness in Las Vegas. He is a trained architect but through his consulting company, Green View Global, he is looking beyond just buildings to help solve the problem.

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"It's really not so much about architecture because we're not talking about buildings at all," he said, "We're talking about land uses. What we can do to make the area more safe, more humane, more dignified, more clean."

Some of the concrete ideas that have come out of these discussions include creating a miniature version of the annual Project Homeless Connect.

Project Homeless Connect is a day when organizations that provide help for the homeless gather at Cashman Center to provide everything from job advice to hair cuts to social services information. 

Van Diepen said the obstacles for getting off the street might seem small to people not in the situation, but for those in the struggle, it can be almost insurmountable. 

"If you picture a gap, in terms of getting off the street, as a little one-inch step on the stair. A one-inch step for a homeless person is a huge issue. To regular folks its just, 'why don't you just go get services?'" he said.  

Another idea for improving the physical space for the homeless is to put in public bathrooms. Port-a-potties have been put in the area before, but Van Diepen said they were damaged and misused.

They've also talked about creating a pedestrian corridor so people can safely move around the area.

Van Diepen said the next step would be to review the solutions generated in the talks and identify three that can be implemented now. 
The goal, he says, is to make a change quickly rather than engage in endless meetings.

 

Guests

Rick Van Diepen, principal, Green View Global; Emily Paulsen, executive director, Nevada Homeless Alliance

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