Las Vegas Turns Parking Lot Into Homeless 'Shelter'

Lines were painted for social distancing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 1, 2020 12:53 AM CDT
Las Vegas Turns Parking Lot Into Homeless 'Shelter'
People prepare to sleep in areas marked by painted boxes on the ground of a parking lot at a makeshift camp for the homeless Monday, March 30, 2020, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/John Locher)

Homeless people in Las Vegas have been directed to sleep in rectangles painted on the pavement in a makeshift parking lot camp as a way to limit the spread of the coronavirus, a move that is stirring outrage by some on social media. Former Obama administration housing chief Julian Castro suggested in a post on Twitter that the city's homeless should be temporarily placed in empty hotel rooms. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted: "In Las Vegas, homeless people are sleeping on concrete floor of a parking lot—six feet apart—while all the hotel rooms are empty." The white-lined patches of pavement were created by officials after a homeless shelter closed when a man staying there tested positive for the coronavirus, the AP reports.

City officials said they decided to temporarily place the homeless in a parking lot of a multi-use facility rather than inside city buildings because officials planned to reserve them for potential hospital overflow space if needed. City spokesman Jace Radke said Tuesday that the open-air shelter was an "emergency situation" and the lot was chosen because the city already owned the property. Radke said 208 people slept at the parking lot shelter Monday night. In California, which has the nation's largest homeless population, Gov. Gavin Newsom has pledged thousands of hotel rooms to help homeless people during the pandemic. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority did not immediately respond to an inquiry about current hotel room occupancy rates.

(More Las Vegas stories.)

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