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A Different Approach to Homelessness

People who have no home and nowhere to turn often end up in makeshift camps on public land near city centers. One of the more common ways municipal governments deal with those camps is to raid them and drive the residents away. "Cleaning up" a homeless camp makes the area look better, but it doesn't solve the problem. The evicted individuals are still homeless and even worse off than before, and their numbers are simply shifted to other areas. However, Las Vegas is trying something different: the homeless camp on Foremaster Lane will not only be allowed to continue existing, but the city is fortifying it with essential services.   

As part of a broader strategy to address its growing homelessness problem, the city is building an open-air courtyard where homeless people can legally camp. The courtyard would include bathrooms, structures for shade, storage, and sleeping mats, according to reports. Some social services are already operating in the area, but the city plans to bring even more, from essentials like showers to housing, employment, and mental health services.

“It is a service center,” Thomas-Gibson says. “One of the services might be that you need someplace to be overnight, but the intention is that homeless individuals get connected to the services that can help break the barriers to ending their homelessness.”

The Las Vegas scheme follows a similar project in San Antonio that is showing promise. Read about the “Corridor of Hope” at Next City. 

(Image credit: Lasvegaslover)

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There can't be such a thing as a nice homeless camp, or else people who could afford rent will opt not to. There needs to be enough friction to prevent that, and keep the problem limited.
Personally, I think the areas in the US with the cheapest cost off living should be identified, and any volunteers will get moved out there, with a monthly housing voucher. Seems the cheapest possible option, actually, and one that offers the most dignity and stability, with the best chance of upward mobility.
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