By Melissa Jacobowitz, MPA
Director of Development & Evaluation for Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth
Youth homelessness continues to increase in Southern Nevada with more than 15,000 homeless youth enrolled in Clark County schools during the 2017-2018 year1, a 38 percent increase from the prior school year.
There are many circumstances that can lead a young person to homelessness, including violence or sexual abuse in the home, and mental health disorders or substance abuse by a parent. Research also shows that between 20-40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and have experienced rejection by their families and communities.2
The nonprofit Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY) helps homeless, abused, neglected, or abandoned children and teens who need safety and protection. These kids can reach out to us any time of the day or night, and we will be there. We provide programming to stabilize young lives; a safe, nurturing environment; and start them on a path to self-sufficiency.
Established in 2000, NPHY has helped thousands of homeless kids find their way, and this journey often starts with asking for help from one of our Safe Place partners. The universally recognized Safe Place signs, in their distinctive yellow and black diamond design, serve as a beacon of hope to youth who have no one to turn to. When kids in crisis enter a business with a Safe Place sign, they find understanding and support from an adult they can trust.
And now, these Safe Place signs will be at the entrance of every Las Vegas-Clark County Library District branch! We are so proud to welcome the Library District as our newest Safe Place partner, which extends to all 25 urban and rural neighborhood libraries that the District operates across Clark County.
All Library District branch staff have been trained on how to recognize, approach, and reassure kids who are facing desperate circumstances. Staff will then call an NPHY crisis responder, who will typically arrive within 30 minutes. The youth is interviewed, their situation and immediate needs are assessed and, when needed, they are transported to an appropriate location for further services. This can include NPHY’s Drop-In Center, where they can receive food, clothing, hygiene supplies, transportation assistance, and help to secure identification documents. Or depending upon their circumstances, they may go to one of our Emergency Shelters, where they can begin to relax, have a hot meal, take a shower, and get a good night’s sleep.
An individualized plan is created for them, including housing, counseling with a licensed therapist, goal-setting, educational support, and depending upon their age, employment counseling. NPHY clients also receive no-cost medical care, legal counseling, and mentorships to help them navigate toward a brighter future.
NPHY also conducts mobile and static street outreach and other community efforts to locate homeless youth who may not be aware of our services.
Helping homeless youth take control of their lives is so important, not only for their own health and safety, but for the social welfare and future of our community. For more information, please visit www.nphy.org or call 702.383.1332.
If you are a young person who needs help, here is what to do:
- Call NPHY’s toll-free crisis hotline at 1-866-U-ARE-SAFE (1.866.827.3723), available 24/7/365.
- Get on any RTC bus and ask the driver for free transportation to a Safe Place site.
- Ask for help at any of our Safe Place locations, which include all Las Vegas-Clark County Library branches, Henderson Library branches, Terrible Herbst Convenience Stores, and city of
Las Vegas fire stations.
- Come to the NPHY Drop-In Center, located at 4981 Shirley St. off of Tropicana Ave. near UNLV, open Monday - Saturday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m .
1Clark County School District Title I HOPE, 2018
2Homeless LGBTQ Youth, Urban Institute, August 2014