Homeless people in Las Vegas sleep 6 feet apart in parking lot as thousands of hotel rooms sit empty


Las Vegas, Nevada has come under criticism after reportedly setting up a temporary homeless shelter in a parking lot complete with social distancing barriers.

This came after a homeless man who had been using the Catholic Charities' homeless shelter, one of the most popular facilities in the city for people experiencing homeless homelessness, tested positive for coronavirus forcing the shelter to close down.

According to CNN, this left around 500 homeless people searching for somewhere to stay as the Courtyard Homeless Resource Centre, was also full to capacity.

In turn, the city, rather than house the homeless in the numerous empty hotels and casinos that it now has available, has set them up in the parking lot of Cashman Centre, which is usually used as a convention centre and sports complex.

The shelter is made up of 24,000 square feet of carpet for sleeping mats, constructed by local students, however, the carpet was soon removed forcing the now 117 people to sleep on the concrete floor while reportedly being boxed in by lines painted on the floor which ensure they stay six feet apart.

Initially, 66 people slept at the shelter on the first night but it was soon realised that it would have been hard to keep disinfecting the carpet and keep it clean and safe for those sleeping on it.

David Riggleman, communications director for the City of Las Vegas, is quoted by CNN as saying:

We found that it was very difficult to disinfect and clean. We had asked for sleeping mats, which we use at the Courtyard, and those can be disinfected easily. But there were none to be had.

Images of the homeless people sleeping on the concrete floor soon emerged on Twitter, with many disgusted at the image they were seeing.

Julian Castro, the current mayor of San Antonio, Texas and the former secretary of Housing & Urban Development, also lent his voice to the criticism.

However, despite the backlash the shelter has been welcomed by the people who are using it. Denise Lankford told CNN affiliate KLAS:

I’m about to cry. This right here is helping us feel secure, feel safe. Other places, you don’t feel safe.

Riggleman added that they could not use the Cashman Centre as it was already being for overflow hospital space but added that he was 'proud of how people stepped up' in the circumstances.

I think our entire country has seen the fact that we can't manage this situation that we are in. It's not just the homeless. This has overwhelmed our resources everywhere and I think everybody is doing the best they can.

Lawrence Weekly, the Clark County Commissioner, echoed this sentiment. In a press release he said: "We needed a solution to this problem quickly. And I want to thank everyone involved for their hard work so that our homeless population has a place to sleep tonight."

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