Not a year after turmoil at the top of the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth tarnished the charity’s reputation, county commissioners today could approve a contract that could net the organization nearly half a million dollars over five years.
The funds, through a federal grant, will be used to expand the charity’s number of beds for homeless kids from 16 to 20.
“It’s an accomplishment, given everything that’s gone on, that we’re able to expand the number of beds and services,” said the charity’s executive director, Arash Ghafoori.
In January, allegations against the partnership’s founder and former chief operating officer, Kathleen Vermillion, surfaced with the implication that funds from the charity had been misappropriated.
Ghafoori filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office in January raising concerns. Around the same time, several board members resigned.
The controversy enveloped Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who dated Vermillion. He said he would abstain from voting on today’s measure.
Ghafoori said internal investigations and new financial controls have made the charity stronger and more efficient, but fundraising is still a problem.
“We’re slowly struggling to get into the good graces of the community,” Ghafoori said.
The charity would receive almost $95,000 its first year, with the option for county officials to renew the contract for four more years. The federal money will be disbursed by the county, and county officials will evaluate how the charity manages the money.
Ghafoori said the program gives youngsters a place to stay. They’re required to participate in a work and education program and transition to permanent housing.
“These are kids who are homeless youths who have very few options,” he said.
Commissioners today are also expected to discuss or vote on several other issues:
■ Discuss the results from the Strip pedestrian study, which recommended banning street performers and vendors from pedestrian bridges and working with resorts to address pedestrian chokepoints in more than a dozen different places along the state’s biggest tourist attraction.
■ Discuss, and potentially vote on, disbanding the University Medical Center Hospital Advisory Board, which oversees hospital functions and makes recommendations to commissioners. Despite being just 2 years old, it has been criticized by commissioners for conflicts of interest between board members and the hospital. It might be replaced with a full-time board if commissioners move ahead Wednesday with a plan to change the hospital’s governance structure.
■ Approve a county arts plan, which would establish a panel that would disburse up to $1.25 million each year to new public art projects and the maintenance of old ones. The money comes from room and property tax revenues.
■ Approve a settlement with the state over $102.5 million diverted to state coffers three years ago. Under the deal, the state will provide $35 million toward the county’s $50 million airport connector project on the Las Vegas Beltway and adjust the state’s Medicaid funding formula, saving the county nearly $16 million through June 30.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-405-9781.