Five mayors back legislation to help Nevada’s homeless

CARSON CITY — Five Nevada mayors called on legislators and Gov. Jim Gibbons on Monday to approve a bill that would appropriate $20 million for transitional housing for the homeless.

“It doesn’t make sense not to do something,” Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson said during a news conference in front of the Legislative Building.

Gibson joined Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon, Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira and Boulder City Mayor Robert Ferraro in urging support for Assembly Bill 126.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman did not attend the ceremony, but he sent a statement in support.

An April survey found there are 11,370 homeless people in Clark County.

The Henderson mayor said it has been shown that providing transitional housing gets at the core of the homelessness problem and can lead to homeless people becoming productive citizens.

But there is no money in Gibbons’ $6.8 billion two-year budget for homeless housing. Legislators have been forced to cut $142 million from the budget because revenues fell below expectations. Democrats, in particular, are concerned public education has been short-changed in Gibbons’ budget.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said during the news conference she has received support from all types of people and legislators for the bill.

“I think people are attracted to the bill because it offers a solution to chronic homelessness, not just a Band-Aid,” said Leslie, who introduced the bill.

Yet she acknowledged it is a challenge to win support for the spending.

“I plan to keep working to find some funding for at least a pilot project to prove these savings and perhaps enlarge the program in future sessions,” Leslie said. “We have seen it works. The one thing the homeless person needs is a home.”

Gibson, in an interview, said the Legislature is the only hope to find money for homeless transitional housing.

“There isn’t another way to do it,” added Gibson, noting Clark County is on the hook to bail out University Medical Center.

District Judge Peter Breen said he would be back in two years “with my hand out” if the Legislature cannot fund the bill this year.

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