Downtown Las Vegas forum explores ways to address homelessness

A young girl Kenny Wilson saw as he walked across San Antonio’s Haven for Hope campus stuck in his mind — she looked just like his 11-year-old granddaughter.

“I went in a stairwell and wept,” Wilson recalled as he spoke before a group gathered for a forum on homelessness in downtown Las Vegas Thursday night.

Wilson is the president and CEO of the 22-acre Haven for Hope, a campus where San Antonio’s homeless population can seek a range of services. The city of Las Vegas’ new courtyard project is based in part on the San Antonio model.

Mental health issues have been pervasive in the people who have sought services and stayed at Haven for Hope since it opened in 2010, Wilson said.

“It’s all about mental health, in my opinion,” hesaid.

Addressing mental health issues that contribute to “chronic and systemic homelessness” is key, said Deacon Tom Roberts, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.

“That’s what we need to solve in the courtyard if we want to make real and meaningful change,” Roberts said.

Corridor of Hope

Las Vegas launched the courtyard last year at Foremaster Lane and Las Vegas Boulevard North. The area is known as the “Corridor of Hope,” where shelters and other homeless service providers are clustered. Las Vegas’ courtyard now essentially consists of a parking lot and older buildings where the city has been offering many of the services planned for the full-scale courtyard during the day.

The city’s courtyard is aimed at serving the homeless population in the downtown Las Vegas area.

“We’re not going to solve this with 5 acres in downtown Las Vegas,” Roberts said, adding the courtyard should be a model that can be replicated throughout the valley.

The Downtown Vegas Alliance put on Thursday’s Successes and Insights on Homelessness forum at Las Vegas City Hall. Alliance Executive Director Michael Vannozzi moderated the panel discussion and ended the evening pushing for more local collaboration on homelessness issues.

“It’s not an issue one city can tackle alone,” Vannozzi said.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the talk about the valley’s homeless issues has persisted for years but is “useless” without measurable action.

“So much talk, so many meetings, but never change, never impact, never results,” Goodman said.

’There’s no one way”

San Antonio’s Haven for Hope has about 1,700 people staying on the campus, split between dorms and an open-air courtyard.

Haven for Hope’s dorms have a higher barrier for entry than the courtyard; no sex offenders are allowed to stay there. The courtyard has a lower barrier for entry: people can be admitted if they’re inebriated.

Of the 148 agencies that provide services on the campus, 36 of them have offices there.

“What I’m not going to do is represent to you that Haven for Hope is what you need to do,” Wilson said. “It is a way. It is not the way. … There’s no one way.”

Las Vegas’ courtyard serves as a “low-barrier, triage” entry point for homeless people, said Kathi Thomas-Gibson, Las Vegas’ community resource manager.

A roughly $15 million courtyard will be built out over a few years, eventually operating 24/7, with a sleeping area. Outreach teams will make contact with homeless people and encourage them to seek services at the courtyard.

Unlike San Antonio’s project, which touched off with tens of millions of private dollars, Las Vegas doesn’t have significant private investment in its project.

The city has funding lined up for the campus startup and build-out, but needs to find another funding source for operations in future years.

City officials are seeking a “stronger and more immediate partnership” from the private sector, Goodman said.

Wilson urged Las Vegans not to view homelessness just as “we need to get people off the streets.”

“These are people that need your help,” Wilson said.

Contact Jamie Munks at or 702-383-0340. Follow @Journo_Jamie_ on Twitter.

Local Videos
Butterflies At The Springs Preserve
The butterfly habitat is now open at the Springs Preserve. Learn about butterflies and take in the peaceful surroundings. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Conservatory's spring display has a Japanese theme
The Bellagio's conservatory is hosting around 65,000 flowers, to form a Japanese theme this spring. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bonnie Springs closes (Caroline Brehman/Kimber Laux)
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas officially closed its gates Sunday, March 17, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Honoring a fallen North Las Vegas Police officer at his namesake school
The 20th Annual Raul P. Elizondo Honor Day celebrates the fallen North Las Vegas Police officer's legacy at his namesake school. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Windy day in Las Vegas Valley
The Review-Journal's camera on the under-construction Las Vegas Stadium the was buffered by high winds on Wednesday, March 14, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
March gloom falls on Las Vegas
After a rainy overnight, gloomy skies hover over Las Vegas Tuesday morning. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
John Katsilometes gets his head shaved at St. Baldrick's
Las Vegas Review-Journal man-about-town columnist John Katsilometes gets his head shaved by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman during St. Baldrick's Foundation shave-a-thon on the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York in Las Vegas Friday, March 8, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Blue Angels take flight over Las Vegas Strip
The Blue Angels’ U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron flew their signature Delta formation over a part of the Las Vegas Strip, McCarran International Airport and east Las Vegas and were scheduled to fly over Hoover Dam. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Gross World Records
A group of about 20 children gathered around a TV at Sahara West Library on Feb. 27 for a history lesson on the most disgusting world records.
Graduation for Renewing HOPE program
The Renewing HOPE program graduation for homeless who spend nine months in Catholic Charities program. Graduates are preparing to enter the workforce. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Car crashes into Starbucks near Las Vegas Strip
Lt. William Matchko of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police gives details about a car crashing into a Starbucks at Sahara Avenue and Paradise Road, near the Las Vegas Strip, on Friday, March 1, 2019. (Jessica Terrones/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Car crashed into PT’s Gold
A 60-year-old man who police believe was impaired drove into a PT’s Gold at Silverado Ranch and Decatur boulevards Thursday night, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. William Matchko said. The driver was hospitalized and is expected to survive. A man inside the bar was hit by debris but drove himself to the hospital, Matchko said. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driver crashes vehicle into PT’s tavern in south Las Vegas (part 1)
A driver suspected of impairment crashed a vehicle into the wall of a PT’s Gold tavern, at 4880 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driver crashes vehicle into PT’s tavern in south Las Vegas (pullout)
A driver suspected of impairment crashed a vehicle into the wall of a PT’s Gold tavern, at 4880 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids Read Books To Dogs At The Animal Foundation In Las Vegas
Kids from local Las Vegas elementary schools took part, Thursday, in a program at the Animal Foundation, where they read books to dogs. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Pioneer Trail highlights historic locations in West Las Vegas
The Pioneer Trail, a 16-site route of historically significant locations in Las Vegas, starts at the Springs Preserve and snakes east until it reaches above the brim of downtown. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutefsya
Vegas Warm Weather Hits Las Vegas Valley
Between Feb. 20-21, parts of the Las Vegas Valley were hit with 7.5" of snow. Less than a week later, it was sunny with temperatures in the 70s. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest at the VA Hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, a World War II Army veteran, was arrested in November after he caused a ruckus at the VA Hospital in North Las Vegas and stole his driver's car keys. He was arraigned on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, and the charges will be dropped after 60 days. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Claytee White talks about Black History Month
An interview with Claytee White, director of the Oral History Research Center at UNLV. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Reflecting on the Moulin Rouge and a segregated Vegas
Former employees of the Moulin Rouge, the first integrated hotel-casino in Nevada, talk about what it was like in the brief six months the casino was open. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices
Home prices rose in every ZIP code in the Las Vegas Valley in 2018 for the second year in a row, according to SalesTraq. Prices grew fastest in older, more centrally located areas. But prices were highest in the suburbs. The top three ZIP codes for price growth were 89119 (29.8%), 89146 (25%) and 89030 (24.6%). The top three ZIP codes for median sales prices were 89138 ($464,500), 89135 ($420,500) and 89052 ($370,000).
Wagonwheel Drive overpass reopens after ice closure
Overpass at Wagonwheel Drive reopens after ice on the onramp caused the ramp to be shut down, Feb. 22, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Keeping warm at the city of Las Vegas’ homeless courtyard
With help from the city of Las Vegas, a Salvation Army shelter stays open during the day Thursday and Friday, offering a safe place for the homeless to find respite from freezing temperatures and snow. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sloppy, Slushy Road Conditions Lead to Slow Traffic
Traffic slowed to a crawl on Jones are near Russell as conditions worsened Thursday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Winter storm blankets west side of Las Vegas Valley
On Wednesday evening through early Thursday a winter storm dumped more than 7 1/2 inches of snow on some parts of the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas snow day for children
Las Vegas kids play in the snow that fell on Feb. 21, 2019. (Belinda Englman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow closes Red Rock Canyon, residents enjoy rare snowfall
The greater Las Vegas area was hit with snowfall on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2019. This video shows the areas surrounding Red Rock Canyon and the Summerlin community. Video by: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas kids attend school in the snow
Las Vegas children attend school during a rare snowstorm on Feb. 21, 2019. Staton Elementary School and other CCSD schools remained open. (Glenn Cook/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People enjoying the snow in Summerlin
Fox Hill Park in Summerlin was busy Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019, with people enjoying the rare snow that fell overnight. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP advises motorists to take caution during Las Vegas snowstorm
NHP advised motorists to take caution during the snowstorm in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Home Front Page Footer Listing