Other than jail, there is no temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness to go when they are inebriated. Silver State Health Services is planning to open a 20-bed sobering facility on Salvation Army’s campus to house them.
“We could go up to 35 beds in the next couple years depending on funding,” says Ryan Linden, the chief executive officer for Silver State Health Services. “There could be 10 of us providing this kind of service. If the funding becomes available, we would love to serve more.”
The City of Las Vegas is expected to approve funding for Silver State Health Services, a nonprofit that provides mental health and medical services, at its July 18 council meeting. About $700,000 would come from a Community Development Block Grant and the redevelopment agency.
However, some of the money is specifically for capital improvements and not programming. “It can’t be used for the cost of operation,” Linden says.
Silver State Health Service will pick up the remainder of the cost from its budget to operate the shelter, which includes staffing the facility with nurses and doctors.
The city originally approved funding out of its 2016 budget for WestCare to provide a “wet shelter.” However, the organization closed it in 2017.
This facility, which is expected to be open by October, would provide 24 to 36 hours for homeless people intoxicated or on drugs. Once people wake up, they have the option to take part in other services such as drug and alcohol counseling, individual therapy, group therapy, peer support and case management.
“This is a safe place for them,” Linden says.
But not all of them.
There were 6,083 people living in shelters or on the streets according to the 2018 Southern Nevada Homeless Census, which was recently released.
An estimated 38 percent of homeless individuals are dependent on alcohol according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
About 15 percent of people who are homeless attribute that to alcohol or drug abuse according to the Southern Nevada Prevention and Diversion Gap Analysis.