LAUGHLIN — The state of Nevada is seeking volunteers to help with the 2020 Southern Nevada Homeless Census, which will count unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness in the Las Vegas Valley, including Laughlin, during the day on Wednesday, Jan. 29.
Volunteers will be asked to work at least one four-hour shift, with the earliest starting at 4 a.m. and the latest starting at 1 p.m. During their shift, volunteers will be assigned to groups of three or more who will walk or drive to assigned areas to count the homeless and conduct short surveys of any homeless individuals who are amenable to being interviewed.
Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to visit www.helphopehome.org/volunteer for information about the count and to select a shift and preferred area. A 30-minute training video will be made available for volunteers to complete online, prior to the count and at their own convenience. Count organizers are hoping for more than 600 volunteers.
This is the first year the homeless count will be conducted entirely during the day. Previous counts were largely conducted during the overnight hours. The change is intended to increase the number of surveys of homeless individuals done during the count; previously the surveys were done after the count. Organizers also hope the change will allow more people to volunteer.
The homeless census is a qualifying requirement for grants that provide more than $13 million annually to local organizations that provide homeless services and programs. The count also provides important information about the homeless in our community and the need for programs and services for this vulnerable population.
Almost 60% of Nevada’s approximately 7,500 homeless residents sleep outdoors, a share that is among the highest in the country, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Of that total, 167 were family households, 723 were veterans, 1,404 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 648 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.
Locally in Laughlin, the homeless issue lives right under our noses. Little known by most of the residents of Laughlin, homelessness is not just an issue on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. Bullhead City does have a substantial homeless population in and around Community Park on a daily basis. Local business owners have complained directly to the Mohave Valley Daily News about large encampments of homeless people living in open terrain just across from Community Park up in the hills along Laughlin Ranch Road and behind the post office and shops along Highway 95 in northern Bullhead City.
Bullhead City has a new homeless shelter that is nearing completion which will be utilized to serve the homeless population, but Laughlin has no such place, nor does it have the many groups behind the shelter in Bullhead City that have made it a reality.
Laughlin’s homeless population is not as visible as Bullhead City’s as the homeless in Laughlin tend to stay out of the way of local businesses, the casino and LVMPD. They are generally found up in the hills behind the pedestrian bridge that spans Highway 163 as one enters Laughlin from Bullhead City.
To volunteer to help count this under-represented portion of the Nevada population and to possibly help them, visit www.helphope