On Wednesday, the Las Vegas City Council approved a proposed ordinance that will criminalize camping or sleeping on downtown streets.
The ordinance, which passed 5-2, will make it a misdemeanor to rest, sleep, or “lodge” in Las Vegas downtown district and other residential areas when beds are available at established shelters.
If charged, those found guilty will be fined up to $1,000 or a jail term of up to six months. Protesters, including civil rights activists, advocates for the homeless, homeless people, and residents flooded the Las Vegas City Council Chambers to show their discontentment with the move.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who sponsored the ordinance, said the ban would encourage homeless people to go to the shelters where they can access services and get off the streets.
The mayor and other council members supporting the ordinance said the ban will only be enforced when there are shelters available in the city.
The ban takes effect Sunday, but criminal penalties will not be enforced until February 1 after city authorities review additional locations for shelter needs and posts signs with details of the ban
Those opposed to the ban carried signs reading “Poverty is not Crime” and chanted “Housing not handcuffs.” They also argued that the ban will burden homeless people with fines and criminal records that will make it hard for them to get jobs.