Bucking a trend in some liberal cities, Las Vegas officials have banned homeless people from pitching tents on city sidewalks and sleeping in public.
The Las Vegas City Council passed the new ordinance in a 5-2 vote, dealing a blow to the city’s rather large homeless population.
City officials took the action because homeless encampments in public were proliferating. The ban is seen as a way to guide homeless to shelters instead.
Under the new law, homeless people are forbidden from resting, sleeping, laying down, using a blanking or camping in public rights-of-way downtown or areas that are adjacent to residential neighborhoods.
Violators are subject to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail
“This is the beginning seed to build something that will flourish,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who first proposed the law, said. “This is flawed, but it is a start.”
“It’s a tool to help them get where they need to go and stop the encroachment on downtown residences and downtown businesses, where too many people now sleep and defecate in doorways,” added councilor Victoria Seaman.
Activists who oppose the new law attended the city council meeting when the vote was taken and vowed civil disturbances.
“If we don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace!” many chanted.
Opponents to the ordinance have called for new homeless housing, mental health treatment, and addiction therapy.
However, lawyer Pauline Ng Lee called the law a “practical first step” toward protecting and helping Las Vegas’ homeless population, which is one of the largest in the United States.