Las Vegas Sun

July 22, 2019

Currently: 101° — Complete forecast

100-Day Challenge On Youth Homelessness::

Las Vegas groups join challenge aimed at limiting homeless youth

Arash Ghafoori

Christopher DeVargas

Arash Ghafoori is the Executive Director of Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY). NPHY provide services for homeless teens to meet their immediate needs and provide a safe, supportive environment and a path to self-sufficiency.

Of the estimated 1,295 children in the Las Vegas area who are considered homeless, 88.4 percent of them are unsheltered — not having a bed to sleep in at a shelter, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s the second highest rate nationally behind the San Jose, Santa Clara City and County in California.

But several local agencies are collaborating to change that by joining the 100-Day Challenge On Youth Homelessness, which is funded through HUD and philanthropic partners and aimed to reduce homelessness. The effort began in mid-November and ends in March.

St. Jude’s the Crossing and the New Crossing, and Nevada Partnership For Homeless Youth, both nonprofits which serve homeless youth, and the Clark County Department of Social Services are the local partners in the project. The Las Vegas Valley is the third cohort of communities that have accepted this challenge. Past cohorts include cities like Austin, Texas, Cleveland and Los Angeles where 413 youth exited homelessness through the challenge.

“We definitely have one of the worst homeless youth issues in the country,” said Arash Ghafoori, the executive director Nevada Partnership For Homeless Youth. “(The challenge) mainly focuses on how in short bursts of time, we can have outcomes and put a dent in those numbers and move the needle in the right direction.”

The groups aim to prevent 50 system-involved youth from entering homelessness and house 100 youth experiencing homelessness under 25 years old with new or innovative housing solutions. Some of those innovative ways include hosting roommate matching parties or helping youth secure apartments.

“The challenge is that a lot of the young people oftentimes have eviction histories, or they’ve had like bad credit, and they’ve had evictions, and so, landlords tend to not want to provide leases to those individuals,” said Christina Vela, executive director for St. Jude’s Ranch.

The first 50 days of the challenged were focused on setting up the infrastructure needed to accomplish the larger goal, Arash said. He expects to see a flurry in progress within the last 50 days of the challenge.

Organizations are looking for landlords or property managers to help secure apartments or living spaces for the youth. Call The Crossings at 702-998-1922 for details. You can also donate to the Nevada Partnership For Homeless Youth.