Las Vegas homeless veterans surveyed, helped

Seventy-one veterans who sleep on Clark County streets are on the radar of advocacy groups trying to put a roof over their heads.

Some are living in conditions so dire they could die on the street from health complications, criminal attacks or drug and alcohol abuse.

Others are being housed temporarily as a result of a homeless survey earlier this week by volunteers with the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition and other groups. The goal is to find homeless veterans permanent housing based on a system that ranks how likely they are to die on the street.

“This will help identify those folks who need to be assessed immediately,” said Michele Fuller-Hallauer, the coalition’s continuum of care coordinator.

A vulnerability score was assigned to each person who agreed to answer survey questions based upon the information they gave. Scores ranged from 0 to 8, with anything 1 or above considered as vulnerable. The higher the score, the worse off a person is considered.

Survey information will be stored in a database to keep track of the chronically homeless, determine what resources are needed and identify 50 of the county’s most vulnerable veterans.

Early survey results were presented Thursday to coalition board members.

There were 312 homeless people who completed surveys. Of those, 108 are considered chronic and vulnerable, and 71 are veterans.

Nineteen are veterans who are chronically homeless, and 24 veterans are being temporarily housed while waiting to see whether they are eligible for the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, which offers rental aid, case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There were 139 people who refused to take the survey.

The two-day survey was the first of its kind in the county and used information from last year’s homeless census. Questions took into consideration medical conditions, income and disabilities, among other categories.

The questionnaire also included information about pets living with their owners on the street; volunteers found 15 dogs and cats, among others.

“There’s been some concerns we’ve gotten about people who have pets on the street,” Fuller-Hallauer said. “They don’t want to be separated from them.”

The Clark County Commission recently addressed that item by enacting a curfew for animals on the Strip. Tourist complaints about animals subjected to intense weather conditions while being used to panhandle prompted the change.

Tyrone Thompson, the coalition’s regional initiatives coordinator, said the information would provide a base line for planning how to use resources, but he cautioned the data would not be the only way to observe the area’s homeless.

The group is working with several organizations including the Metropolitan Police Department, the Nevada Homeless Alliance, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the 100,000 Homes Campaign – a national effort to house 100,000 of the most vulnerable homeless through donations and other resources.

The national campaign has housed 16,944 people in 135 communities nationwide.

Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@review or 702-455-4519.

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