News | December 14, 2023
Recapping the 2023 Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit Hosted by Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth and Sands
On November 8, Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY) and Sands co-presented the 2023 Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit at The Smith Center for Performing Arts, with support from the UNLV Greenspun College of Urban Affairs and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The 2023 Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit marked a major turning point as the Summit convened experts and stakeholders from across Nevada for the first time, in preparation for development of the state’s first standalone plan to end youth homelessness.
“The energy, enthusiasm and knowledge from all who participated in Summit 2023 was an incredible accelerator for the Movement to End Youth Homelessness in Nevada,” said Arash Ghafoori, CEO of NPHY. “We’ve reached a point in which meaningful impact can only be achieved by evolving to a statewide approach with all resources and service providers aligned. I am inspired by the coalition we convened at Summit 2023, and we are well-positioned to successfully lead the work ahead.”
Randy Hyzak, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Sands and an NPHY board member, opened the Summit by recognizing the progress that has been made, commending the response from around the state and calling for continued commitment, especially from the private sector. Ghafoori followed with an update on the Movement to End Youth Homelessness, setting the stage for a series of rapid-fire presentations and a panel discussion outlining regional perspectives from representatives in northern, southern and rural Nevada and tribal communities.
Important points outlined in regional presentations and the panel discussion included the lack of any state-level funding for youth homelessness and the critical need for more housing and supportive services, particularly around mental health, to give youth experiencing homelessness the resources they need to recover from the trauma they have experienced and aim toward building a promising future.
Youth homelessness remains an urgent issue in Nevada. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, roughly 12% of youth experiencing homelessness across the United States in 2022 were residing in Nevada. The state also is facing an estimated shortage of more than 80,000 affordable rentals for extremely low-income tenants, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The stories behind these numbers were brought to life during the Pull Up A Chair presentation by youth leaders with lived experience of homelessness. Presenters gave emotional accounts of their journeys using artfully decorated chairs that represented the hurdles they encountered, along with symbols of hope and inspiration. The challenges faced by homeless youth were further illustrated by keynote speaker Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of A Place to Stand and a former homeless youth, who captivated the audience with stories of his journey from a youth on the streets to award-winning writer and poet. Both of these sessions highlighted the power of self-expression in overcoming trauma.
Afternoon breakout sessions at the 2023 Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit were then dedicated to the work and beginning to align around a statewide plan to end youth homelessness, with topics including direct cash transfers for youth; the intersectionality between childhood trauma, sex trafficking and the unsheltered; a study on youth experiencing homelessness that will serve as the Movement’s statewide needs assessment and restful leadership.
Addressing youth homelessness is a primary focus of the Sands Cares community engagement program in Las Vegas. Sands’ work with NPHY spans nearly a decade and more than $2.3 million in contributions to provide immediate relief, lasting solutions, and advocacy and awareness for youth experiencing homelessness since 2014.
“Today marked a major milestone in the Movement to End Youth Homelessness,” Hyzak said. “We now have a united coalition of statewide leaders, ready to take measured and decisive action to help our most vulnerable youth. The stories we heard from the young leaders who have gone through these experiences underscore the critical work we must do and undoubtedly have motivated and inspired all who attended the Summit.”
To learn more about Sands’ youth homelessness efforts as part of its focus on hardship relief in communities around the world, read the company’s latest environmental, social and governance report: https://www.sands.com/2022-environmental-social-and-governance-report/