Three homeless people were found dead this week near the downtown Las Vegas I-15 corridor. Though the exact cause of death is still unknown, the City of Las Vegas says “high heat recently is suspected as a contributing factor.”
“It is heartbreaking that these deaths are occurring,” said Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear in a statement. “This is a community-wide problem impacting all of us in some way, whether we are homeless, business owners or taxpayers.”
The Southern Nevada Health District reports there were 123 heat-related Southern Nevada deaths altogether in 2017, up from 78 in 2016.
According to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, 176 Nevadans statewide died in 2017 due to exposure to heat. Close to 400 were hospitalized that year.
Even though this is an issue that impacts all people, health district officials say the heat poses the greatest threat to low-income households, those experiencing homelessness, seniors and young children.
The city says it’s increasing efforts to connect people experiencing homelessness to daytime shelters, which are at Salvation Army, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and The Shade Tree. Additional cooling stations open at community centers throughout the valley when there are extreme heat warnings.
The regular daytime shelters provide about 500 spots for people wanting to come inside out of the heat. However, the recently released 2018 Homeless Census found there were 6,083 people living in shelters or on the streets in Southern Nevada during the point-in-time count.