In 2006, home prices were high, unemployment was low and Las Vegas was mean to the homeless: The City passed an ordinance outlawing food distribution to indigent people in public parks. It was undone four years later, following the arrest of homeless advocate Gail Sacco and a subsequent American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit. The 2010 rules allow gatherings of up to 75 people—including feeding them—and prevent banning anyone unless there is an arrest or citation.
Was the intended result achieved? Yes and no, say Sacco and ACLU general counsel Allen Lichtenstein. Police have refrained from harassing Sacco and her beneficiaries, but homeless oppression continues in other forms—for instance, fencing off all but a few sections of Baker Park, where Sacco does her good deeds.
“The picnic tables are only open when there is a soccer game, which is rare,” Sacco says. “So soccer people can sit at the picnic tables, but nobody else can. We have to serve food on the concrete with no tables or shade.”