LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – Did you know there are some 14,000 homeless young people in Southern Nevada? Many go to school, hang out with their friends, even take part in afterschool activities — and you’d never know they don’t have a place to put their heads or call home every night.
Before school, after school and on weekends, homeless youth in Southern Nevada often find themselves in vulnerable situations, frequently without access to basic needs such as food, hygiene and shelter, and susceptible to harsh weather during the summer and winter months. To provide a safe place during these at-risk hours, the nonprofit Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY) is expanding its Drop-In Center hours for homeless youth to access immediate survival needs and many other life-saving services. Beginning Monday, Feb. 27, the new hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, an increase of 21 hours per week from the current 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekday schedule.
Located at 4981 Shirley Street near UNLV, the Drop-In Center is a safe location for homeless youth to access food, clothing, shelter and respite from the streets, while building trust and skills necessary to transition to longer-term care and/or self-sufficiency. In addition, youth can pick up toiletries, take a shower, wash clothing, use the computer lab, attend tutoring, seek legal assistance, and take advantage of enrichment activities including NPHY’s gym, art therapy and music therapy. Youth also can access higher-level supportive services, such as case management, crisis counseling, life skills classes, and educational and employment assistance.
Funding to support the added hours comes through a public/private partnership consisting of a competitive federal grant and support from Las Vegas Sands Corp. The Basic Center Program grant was recently awarded to NPHY through the Administration for Children and Families under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It also allows NPHY to double its emergency shelter beds from four to eight for runaway and homeless youth under age 18. NPHY’s Emergency Shelter offers some of Southern Nevada’s only immediate shelter beds for youth as young as 12 years old.
“As youth homelessness continues to rise, it’s critical for us to offer assistance to these youth during times when they have no place to go to and are the most vulnerable to predators and the harsh realities of living on the streets,” said Arash Ghafoori, executive director of Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. “Being able to now offer more service hours and days at the Drop-In Center will go a long way to stabilize these youths’ lives. We are appreciative of the grant and will continue seeking means to expand Drop-In Center hours to, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to complement our other 24-7 services.”
Ghafoori added NPHY has been fortunate in having great community partners, allowing it to help more of Southern Nevada’s growing youth homeless population, which saw a 30 percent increase with more than 14,000 homeless youth enrolled in Clark County schools during the 2015-2016 school year.
“Nevada Women’s Philanthropy and HomeAid Southern Nevada were pivotal in helping us expand the Drop-In Center,” he said. “NPHY staff and youth clients continue to be grateful to them for their recognition of this community problem and doing something about it. We are very excited to be able to take their investment to the next level just two years later by now expanding the Drop-In Center’s hours.”