Next round of pot fees allocated toward rehousing homeless families

Help bldg
HELP of Southern Nevada is one of the nonprofits the county is directing marijuana fee revenue to house and assist homeless families. Photo: Michael Lyle
Help bldg
HELP of Southern Nevada is one of the nonprofits the county is directing marijuana fee revenue to house and assist homeless families. Photo: Michael Lyle

The Clark County Commission Tuesday approved $6.1 million generated from marijuana license fees to help pay for rapid rehousing programs, which could create about 584 beds in the community.

HELP of Southern Nevada, HopeLink of Southern Nevada and Lutheran Social Service Network will be allocated about $2 million each for programs that provide housing and case management for families with children who are experiencing homelessness.

Mike Pawlak, director of the county Department of Social Service, said there are about 200 families in the Homeless Management Information System queue waiting for housing and supportive services. Approving the funding and expanding rehousing options, he said, will help eliminate the waitlist.

On any given night, around 6,100 people are experiencing homelessness in Southern Nevada, with an estimated 64 percent unsheltered.

Commission Chairwoman Marylin Kirkpatrick proposed in January that fees from marijuana licenses be used to respond to homelessness — business license fees could generated more than $11 million in 2019. 

“I wanted to talk about the board establishing a policy to dedicate some of the marijuana dollars toward homelessness because I think it’s an important social impact that we have to deal with on a regular basis,” she said.

The commission voted in May to allocate $1.8 million toward programs that help homeless youth and medically fragile homeless.

HELP of Southern Nevada received $855,000 to help expand its Shannon West Homeless Youth Center, which houses youth who are at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. An additional 70 beds are expected to be available this summer.

Health Plan of Nevada was also allocated $930,000 to go toward rapidly rehousing homeless individuals who have been discharged from the hospital.

During the Tuesday meeting, the County Commission also heard a presentation from social service officials on the affordable housing crisis in Southern Nevada and the need to come up with solutions. For years, homeless advocates have stressed the importance of building more affordable and low-income housing to counteract homelessness.

While the county didn’t take immediate action, Kirkpatrick directed staff to present potential solutions at a September meeting.

Some potential ideas thrown out included establishing a local housing trust fund or passing affordable housing policies such as inclusionary zoning. Kirkpatrick said the idea of inclusionary zoning often has a negative perception and encouraged using different terms to garner greater support.

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

1 COMMENT

  1. I have benefited from both the Wellcare and HELP programs after open heart surgery but thousands are not so fortunate. A homeless animal has better shelters and housing opportunities.

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