The Nevada Homeless Alliance just wrapped up its 23rd Project Homeless Connect.
The one-day event at the Cashman Center offers free housing, medical help and other services for homeless and at-risk populations.
This year's event served 3,608 people, with help from 170 agencies and 600 volunteers.
Emily Paulsen is the executive director for Nevada Homeless Alliance. She said agencies at the event provided everything from hair cuts and clothing to legal aid and job training services.
“The ultimate goal of the event is to end homelessness in Southern Nevada," she said. "We believe we help the goal through events like Project Homeless Connect because we provide immediate access to numerous critical resources that someone who is experiencing homelessness or who is at risk of experiencing homelessness need access to.”
Paulsen said getting services from dozens of different agencies could take weeks, but with Project Homeless Connect people can get that same help in a matter of hours.
Paulsen said one of the biggest struggles is the amount of affordable housing.
“We do have many housing opportunities that do exist for different people experiencing homelessness in Southern Nevada, but we don’t have enough,” she said.
Michele Fuller-Hallauer is the manager of Clark County Social Services. She said simple things like not having the paperwork to get an identification card, which is needed to lease a place to live, and more complicated problems like substance abuse and mental health issues can be barriers to getting people off the streets and into a home.
“For many of our folks in the community they’re experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues, and we subscribe to the housing-first methodology,” Fuller-Hallauer said.
"Housing first" means getting people into stable housing before dealing with anything else that might be going on in their lives.
She said another barrier for people is legal issues. The legal aid and court system representatives are always busy at Project Homeless Connect as people try to clean up court records in order to get a job or lease an apartment.
While Project Homeless Connect offers help for a day, Paulsen said there are many agencies working to end homelessness year around.
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada
Emily Paulsen, executive director, Nevada Homeless Alliance; Michele Fuller-Hallauer, manager, Clark County Social Services.
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