Kathi Thomas-Gibson is the Director of Community Services at The Las Vegas City Council, with more than 20 years of experience implementing federal grant programs, including Community Development Block Grants, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, Welfare-to-Work, and other special-purpose programs for at-risk communities. She is often a convener of key stakeholders and has successfully addressed complex, longstanding problems through collaborative leadership approaches. She has been with the city for four years and previously served as the city’s community resource manager. Thomas-Gibson oversees key projects addressing homelessness, affordable housing development, education, youth services, neighborhood revitalization, and services for special-needs populations.
What is your role in the development of The Plan?
I participated in the leadership and decision making teams, drafting the plan to end youth homelessness. I reviewed content, help to draft some language and vetted working theories about how to move forward with implementation.
Why is it important for you to join The Movement?
Homelessness is THE critical strategic priority for my department and for the city of Las Vegas. It is critical that we have meaningful interventions and solid opportunities for housing with services. We needed an approach that takes into account the substantive differences between youth and adult homelessness so that the strategy will not replicate the fragmentation found in adult systems.
What do you think is the most important element needed to end youth homelessness?
There is no single element….there are multiple systems that must interact effectively: foster care and child protective services; education and workforce development; housing and supportive services; criminal justice. These systems need to see the issues of homeless youth through social equity and restorative justice lenses. Fragmentation prevents people from getting the help they need, when they need it.
What is your hope for youth homelessness?
I want to end youth homelessness….not “manage” it. My hope is that youth and young adults have an array of community-based options so that they do not face homelessness as their only choice, or as the result of a choice someone made for them.