Homelessness is a complex problem often linked with poverty. With limited resources to pay for necessities such as food, childcare, healthcare, education and housing, difficult choices have to be made. Many times housing, which absorbs a high proportion of income, is dropped. The harsh reality is that anyone can be homeless at any time. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate — the homeless come from all social backgrounds, races and economic situations. They are single men and women, parents, children, intact families, senior citizens and veterans.
Located at 1581 N. Main Street in Las Vegas, Father Joe’s MASH Village provides a continuum of care for people who are homeless. MASH (Mobile Assistance & Shelter for the Homeless) is a center for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Hannah Johnston, public relations and events coordinator for MASH Village, said, “There are approximately 10,000 to 12,000 homeless in Las Vegas. A majority of them are what we call ‘working homeless.’ MASH Village’s mission is to help people move from homelessness to a safe living environment, help them attain solid employment and enable them to maintain a home.”
MASH Village serves as a transitional living center. Karla Perez, MASH Village chairman of the board, said, “I see the importance of taking care of families with children in Las Vegas. I believe we need to take care of our own community.” The 180-bed facility provides a short-term program (four months) and a long-term program (two years) for families with children. Short-term transitional housing helps people who are dealing with the trauma of homelessness, confronting issues of addiction, or dealing with family separation or abuse issues. During this time, residents also learn to adapt to a structured, communal living environment where curfews are enforced, chores are assigned and the upkeep of the facility depends entirely on them.
Everyone enters the short-term transitional program first and must apply to become eligible for the long-term program. Long-term transitional housing is handled on a case-by-case basis. At this time, an individual or family is required to pay a shared living expense and work with a case manager on a budget. Residents work with case managers and are referred to services such as employment agencies, adult basic education classes and life skills assistance. Johnston said, “We really make them work. They are not just hanging out and having fun.”
The MASH program is designed to provide much more than a quick fix. The Village has a network of social services available through government agencies and non-profit service and shelter providers such as Nevada State Welfare, Clark County Social Services, Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles and the Veterans Administration. Clients receive immediate and comprehensive assistance that addresses their specific needs. This consolidation of services assists individuals and families in making permanent transitions to economic self-sufficiency.
The Village also has a medical clinic on-site that treats over 600 low-income and at-risk homeless individuals per month. It provides outpatient care for Village residents and medically underserved members of the community. Medical professionals volunteer their services to treat uninsured individuals. It is the only free clinic in Las Vegas offering services such as X-rays, blood work and TB tests.
MASH Village has been in the news recently because of a funding crisis that almost led the operation to shut down entirely. The Rev. Joe Carroll estimated his San Diego-based organization has been subsidizing the Las Vegas facility at a cost of about $1 million per year. After negotiating with the city of Las Vegas to renew its lease, and forming a 40-member board comprised of local business executives, Carroll is hoping to be able to raise enough money to continue all current MASH programs.
To make a contribution to MASH Village, call 388-0141.
In addition to cash contributions, the organization is also in need of household goods and clothing. Call 380-1300 for free pickup of your tax-deductible items.
Station Casinos has donated $50,000 to support the Crisis Intervention Center.
Tenat Healthcare Foundation, parent company of Lake Mead Hospital, gave a $50,000 check to support operations at the MASH Village Medical Clinic.
Lake Mead Hospital has pledged to donate $10,000 per month to be used for the primary care program at MASH Village.
Business Bank of Nevada donated computer equipment for MASH Village’s resource room, to aid in job skill training, adult education and employment searches. It also donated $1,000 for the capital development fund.