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Las Vegas council votes to expand Courtyard homeless center

Updated July 22, 2020 - 5:34 pm

Las Vegas City Council members voted Wednesday to spend more than $23 million on the expansion and construction of the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center.

“This has been a longtime dream come true,” said Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who added that she hopes the facility will be replicated countywide and statewide. “To come to this point, where we really have a scene for our veterans, for all the homeless community, a compassion and a beautiful future.”

The total cost of the Courtyard, a 24/7 one-stop shop where the homeless can sleep and access a range of services, is $26.2 million, city records show.

Construction will begin early next month and is expected to be complete in June 2022. City officials last year predicted the cost to be $15 million.

City spokesman Jace Radke said that the cost increased again “as the city got more information and got further into the process of planning the project.”

During the Wednesday meeting, the City Council also allocated $4 million to waive rental fees for tenants of city buildings who haven’t been able to operate their businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic and to create a housing assistance program.

The housing assistance program would help pay rent or mortgages for up to three months for those at risk of becoming homeless due to COVID-19.

Another $2.1 million of federal coronavirus funding also was set aside for the homeless to build a temporary, tented pavilion with 280 seats and tables in the parking lot of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, across from the Courtyard, at the intersection of Foremaster Lane and Las Vegas Boulevard.

The facility is intended to be a socially distant haven for the homeless to eat a sit-down meal. Once open, it’ll mark the first time the homeless will have that opportunity since March 17, when Catholic Charities shut down its dining hall to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It also will provide a day center to protect the homeless from extreme weather conditions and include security, portable restrooms and handwashing stations.

The Courtyard construction, slated to begin in early August and to be completed in June 2022, will be built by CORE Construction.

The expansion will include the building of a day center with movable walls and a two-story intake administration building with showers, toilets and laundry facilities.

It will also include a new guest services building and an outdoor, shaded sleeping area for 500 with fixtures for cooling and heating.

A federally certified health center also will be built onsite to provide medical, mental health and addiction services.

The Courtyard project is largely funded through $20.8 million in community development block grants, as well as Medicaid reimbursement funds. The city sold $26 million in federal tax credits, part of which will pay for the remainder of the cost, Bill Arent, director of economic and urban development, told council members.

Of the tax credit funds, there will be a surplus of nearly $76,000 for operational costs over seven years, and the city hopes to continue to raise money for operations through donations with the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE.

Councilwoman Olivia Diaz said the Courtyard was just “a piece of the puzzle.”

“It takes a regional approach for all of us to tackle (homelessness),” she said. “But we’re still trying to hammer away and complete the puzzle.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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