A few years ago, Straight From the Streets activists for the homeless put Margaret and Lupia up in a no-frills weekly apartment on East Fremont. They were both in their 50s; they?d been sleeping on the shaded cement under the freeway. By providing vouchers to the apartment for low rent and assigning case managers, Straight From the Streets nourished both women back to self-sustaining lifestyles: one got a job in retail, the other eventually moved to an affordable senior citizen apartment complex. They weren?t enabled; they were assisted.
In the last two years, Southern Nevada?s overnight homeless count has decreased 22 percent?from an all-time high near 13,000 in 2009 to roughly 7,000 this year. What happened to them?
The decrease is likely a result of activist and agency cooperation?and the injection of $4.1 million in federal funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a., Obama?s stimulus plan.
In response to the federal grants, Southern Nevada homeless agencies created a consortium in 2010 that funneled the money into a multi-tiered homeless prevention program dubbed ?No Wrong Door.? In August 2012, Applied Analysis reviewed the spending and found the program prevented or ended homelessness for nearly 3,500 people at an average cost of $1,200 per person, a cost that compares well with other metro areas. But the federal program is winding down, and it?s up to the community to continue that progress.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst with Applied Analysis, says that the recovery is already causing strains on affordable housing. And a drive through the redeveloping Fremont East district offers a plain-sight reminder that although new restaurants and bars enliven the economy where old weekly motels seemed an eyesore, affordable housing cannot simply be bought out and eliminated. It has to be a part of the revitalization plan.