Homeless hurting as cold weather hits
The large population of homeless in the valley, are struggling to find shelter, as the nights get colder.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The large population of homeless in the Las Vegas valley are struggling to find shelter as the nights get colder.
Every night, Theresa Kennedy searches for a good spot to sleep. She's just one of more than 9,000 people in Clark County, who are homeless.
"The past five days have been hell," she says.
The sudden and drastic drop in the temperature outside has made sleeping on the street unbearable.
"It came out of nowhere," she says. "All I have is a sleeping bag and a heavy sweater. I'm freezing to death."
Homeless shelters are already operating near capacity.
"We're probably running at about 90 percent right now, but through this past week we were 95 percent full, and that's in paid beds," says Leslee Rogers, the Public Information Officer with the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada.
Because of a lack of funding right now, the Salvation Army is only able to offer dorm-style accommodations for eight dollars per night.
"I don't have eight dollars to spend," Kennedy says. "I'm begging for small change."
It's a sad sign of the times and a hard realization for local non-profits.
"If we had money, we'd be sleeping people in our main shelter right now," Rogers says. "But we just don't have the funds to do it."
Local non-profit organizations are waiting for Clark County's Emergency Shelter Grant, which kicks in after Thanksgiving. The grant provides money to keep homeless shelters open during the cold winter months.
For the Salvation Army, the grant would translate to about 120 more beds every night, offered for free.
"Because this cold weather came on so fast, we're trying to get the grant money available to us sooner," Rogers says.
It's something Kennedy is holding out hope for, as she waits in the cold.
The Salvation Army is asking for any possible donations of washable blankets. They're also requesting sleeping bags, so that if they have to turn people away, they can at least give them a warm sleeping bag to use.