Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Chris Giunchigliani Speaks About Homelessness in Las Vegas
I took this photo during my last week of homelessness in June 2010
By Cliff Harrison
The following is a statement from Las Vegas mayoral candidate, Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, in response to my communication with her.
I had sent her this message:
Oscar Goodman and his administration was hostile toward the homeless and in many cases abusive and even illegal. How do you intend to treat the homeless and poor citizens of Las Vegas if you become mayor? What exactly would you do? --Cliff Harrison
She replied with this eloquent response:
Thanks for your question. First, we should not lump all homeless into the same category. I’ve taught homeless children who were part of an entire family sleeping in one small car. I’ve known elderly whose apartments were torn down and converted and they lacked the money for a new deposit and the transportation to get there. I’ve met with homeless veterans suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and I’ve gone out after midnight to assist in taking a census of the homeless. I know that some have mental disorders, are unable or unwilling to take their medications, and sometimes self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Some simply just don’t want to be a part of “regular” society. And others are just like some of your neighbors—one paycheck away from economic collapse.
These different groups must be approached differently. But I believe each person must be treated as compassionately as possible. I do know that forcing homeless out of one area only forces them into another—it doesn’t solve the problem. For some, there may be no “solution.” For others, shelter, showers, and durable footwear make the difference. Working with the County Administrator to handle Social Security checks can help. Medical and psychological assistance is needed. We can’t allow people to use homeowners’ lawns as their toilets, but throwing the homeless into jail doesn’t solve the problem either—and it’s very costly to taxpayers.
We have to break this into parts, and coordinate activities to reduce duplication and increase coverage. I strongly believe that charitable groups can show us the way, and in this case government should often follow instead of lead. Government can fill a function by providing humane shelters from the stifling heat of summer, the cold of winter, and spread them out instead of clustering all of the homeless into a single area. I know it isn’t always popular, but as Mayor I will not bulldoze down a homeless encampment until there is an alternative available to the human beings who live there.
Hope that answers your question. Early voting is now underway, would love to have your vote.
Thanks for reaching out,
I appreciate Commissioner Giunchigliani's prompt reply. As evident she applied careful thought and time in her response and I thought an accurate description of the homeless situation which means she could, as mayor, deliver an end to the atrocities of the homeless in the Las Vegas Valley.
Until election day we'll be discussing this issue but for now let's absorb this statement and judge what alternative we have if we do not elect Chris Giunchigliani as mayor. What do we have to look forward to with a Goodman win? Another 12 years of human rights violations? You've got the conch. It's your turn to speak.
Posted by Cliff Harrison