HUD Secretary Ben Carson visits Las Vegas to discuss homeless issues


Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was given a very raw look at the problem of homelessness.

He was on skid row in Los Angeles Tuesday, before looking at the homeless corridor here in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

But he’s also being shown what our community is doing right when it comes to addressing this very complex issue.

Dr. Carson was given a tour of the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center. The center is designed to help young people from 16- to 24-years-old who simply have nowhere else to go.

Daniel Sandoval-Collins, 19, has been here three months.

"I feel like these guys are family. I can tell them stuff I never told people before," says Sandoval-Collins.

Carson is in Las Vegas to get a better understanding of our community’s specific homeless issues.

Nevada is currently No. 1 in the nation for the number of unaccompanied homeless youth. Carson says in this center, there are solutions.

"Our young people are our most valuable resource. I’m pleasantly surprised to see the level of interest of the citizenry," said Carson.

Fuilala Riley is with Help of Southern Nevada, which operates the center.

"If we can successfully connect our youth of their community by the time they are 25, then their chances of entering an adult shelter diminishes astronomically," states Riley.

From homeless teens to homeless veterans, Carson is also visiting Veterans Village. Here, innovative ideas are being developed to address housing needs, including converting shipping containers into small apartments.

"They’re able to do these conversions quite economically. We need to be thinking outside the box, no pun intended," says Dr. Carson.

Carson says it’s also important to give the homeless a safe location to meet with service providers. A one-stop shop for many of their needs — something the city of Las Vegas is currently doing with "The Courtyard" at Las Vegas Boulevard and Foremaster Lane.

But, he says, solving complex social issues will take everyone working together.

"Right now we’re in an awkward situation where everything is political. If you like something, I don’t. It’s like a bunch of third graders. We need to work together here and throughout the country," says Dr. Carson.

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Author: Linda Page