With a ceremonial crash, Las Vegas city officials on Thursday kicked off the next phase of a homeless resource center project.
An excavator tore through the roof of an old building on the property off Las Vegas Boulevard North where a permanent homeless courtyard is planned.
“It’s a starting point, not the end point, where homeless people can go to access services,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said.
The permanent courtyard will offer a range of services to local homeless people at Las Vegas Boulevard North and Foremaster Lane in an area of the city known as the Corridor of Hope, where homeless shelters are clustered and where there is widespread street homelessness.
A temporary courtyard with pop-up services has been operating in a pilot phase for more than a year, but Thursday marked the start of the city’s build-out to a permanent set-up. The existing buildings will be razed, and the $10 million construction project is slated finish by the end of 2019. The city sold nearly $11 million in bonds to fund the construction.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re stoned or sober, they’ll be able to come here and be safe,” Councilman Bob Coffin said.
Services have been offered during the day, but the courtyard is expected to move to a 24/7 operation this summer, where homeless people will be able to sleep in an open-air but secure location.
The City Council is slated to vote in June on a contract with Southern Nevada CHIPs, for the nonprofit group to operate the courtyard.
The Las Vegas courtyard, modeled after a resource center spread across a campus in San Antonio, Texas, will continue to operate on the property next door while construction goes on. That campus, Haven for Hope, opened in 2010 and has since significantly decreased street homelessness, Haven for Hope CEO Kenny Wilson said.
The annual point-in-time count of homeless people in downtown San Antonio was 738 people a few months before the campus opened. The January 2018 downtown homeless count was 197.
— The permanent courtyard, slated to be finished by the end of 2019, will have new buildings with classrooms, shower and restrooms, an intake center, kitchen, mailboxes and pet kennel.
— Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2019, and is expected to cost $10 million.
— Since August 2017, the city has had 5,624 requests for services at the courtyard, including mental health, legal assistance, housing and job opportunities.