News | December 14, 2022
Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth and Sands Host the 2022 Southern Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit
Sands and Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY), with support from the UNLV Greenspun College of Urban Affairs and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, hosted the 2022 Southern Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit on November 17 at The Smith Center for Performing Arts.
The sixth annual Summit featured a robust schedule, including an overview of the changing landscape in Southern Nevada by Dr. Robert Ulmer, Dean, UNLV Greenspun College of Urban Affairs, an inspiring youth panel discussion addressing systems-level change, an update on the Movement to End Youth Homelessness in Southern Nevada, as well as breakout sessions on topics such as housing, mental health and civil rights. New elements at the 2022 Summit were the unveiling of the first standalone Southern Nevada Youth Homelessness Needs Assessment and the introduction of the Movement Institute advocacy training to integrate community members into the fight to end youth homelessness in Southern Nevada.
The 2022 Summit came at a critical time for Southern Nevada, as the region grapples with a changing employment landscape, increased mental health needs, breakdowns in support networks and a lack of affordable housing. Specifically, the region is facing an estimated shortage of almost 80,000 affordable rentals for extremely low-income tenants, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In its annual report on affordable housing availability, the coalition ranked the Las Vegas metropolitan area first among “most severe” affordable-housing shortages among the 50 largest U.S. cities. The shortage of affordable housing is exacerbating Southern Nevada’s youth homelessness crisis; in 2019, Las Vegas/Clark County had the fourth largest number of unaccompanied homeless children and youth of any major metro area in the United States.
Amid these circumstances, the results of the first standalone Southern Nevada Youth Homelessness Needs Assessment were unveiled at the Summit. Conducted in 2022 by the Technical Assistance Collaborative, the regional assessment compiled data about homeless youth and their needs. The assessment found a significant rise since 2019 in youth aged 12 to 24 who were enrolled in one of three types of crisis response interventions: street outreach, emergency shelters or transitional housing. More than 5,000 youth continue to experience various forms of homelessness and interact with the homeless response systems each year.
The assessment also documented inequity in youth homelessness in Southern Nevada, with Black youth being disproportionately impacted in Clark County. Another key finding was the increase in mental health issues related to homelessness, with a higher number of youth reporting a learning disability, developmental disability or other impairment as the reason they had trouble maintaining housing.
“The needs assessment clearly demonstrated that mental and emotional well-being need to be part of our community’s strategies to help these youth,” Arash Ghafoori, CEO of NPHY, said. “As we continue our work to make youth homelessness in Southern Nevada rare, brief, non-recurring and equitably addressed, we must make mental and emotional health a top priority.”
Another important component of the 2022 Southern Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit was the kick-off of The Movement Institute, an innovative and hands-on advocacy training to empower community members to champion positive change for vulnerable youth. After its launch at the 2022 Summit, The Movement Institute will offer quarterly sessions on intersectional topics to bring in new community members to the Movement, provide professional development for partners, as well as advance advocacy efforts and skills among more people. The next Movement Institute session will be held on March 29 at the East Las Vegas Library.
“The launch of the Movement Institute represents a big step forward in our ongoing effort to end youth homelessness in Southern Nevada,” Ghafoori said. “It offers our community partners and stakeholders the tools and knowledge to successfully advocate with and for homeless youth and their needs. This sharing of expertise greatly expands the impact our community can make for our most vulnerable youth.”
NPHY and Sands also announced that the Southern Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit will have a statewide focus in 2023, with the eventual goal of creating a statewide plan to end youth homelessness. For more information about the 2022 Southern Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit and The Movement Institute, visit https://nphy.org/summit22/attendee. To get involved or take action, visit https://nphy.org/themovement/actioncenter/.