Las Vegas homeless forced to sleep in painted squares for 'social distancing requirements'

Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal

LAS VEGAS – Homeless people on the streets of Las Vegas are sleeping in squares painted on the asphalt of a soccer stadium parking lot – many of them without padding. 

The Southern Nevada Health District announced last week that a homeless man tested positive for COVID-19, forcing Catholic Charities to shutter its shelter and leave 500 people without a place to sleep overnight.

Soon after, city officials opened an emergency homeless shelter on the upper parking lot of the Cashman Center in Las Vegas, where boxes have been outlined on the asphalt in white paint to create space between the temporary residents. 

People rest at a makeshift camp for the homeless Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Las Vegas. Officials opened part of a city parking lot as a makeshift homeless shelter after a local shelter closed when a man staying there tested positive for the coronavirus. (AP Photo/John Locher)

"The marked squares are designed to help meet social distancing requirements,"  said Jace Radke, city of Las Vegas spokesman, in an email. "We’ll continue to provide this temporary respite, while practicing necessary social distancing, for anyone who is suffering from homelessness. We look forward to Catholic Charities reopening this week."

Pictures on social media show what the scene looked like Monday morning. 

Initially, padded carpeting was provided but it couldn’t be adequately sanitized each day.

"We don’t have enough mats to accommodate everyone," Radke said. "We are trying to get more but have been unsuccessful so far." 

The temporary shelter operates from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. local time through April 3. It’s intended for homeless individuals who can walk to the site from the Homeless Courtyard Catholic Charities had to close.

“The city wants to make this site available because we know the obligation we have to help ease the overflow of the Homeless Courtyard,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said in a statement.

Follow reporter Ed Komenda on Twitter: @ejkomenda

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This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette Journal: Las Vegas homeless sleep in parking lot to slow coronavirus outbreak