Nevada’s Homeless Problem – Illustrated

Posted on by & filed under Nevada by the Numbers Blog.

We recently stumbled across this new interactive map which uses visualizations to help understand homelessness in counties across the US.

Every dot is 5 homeless people, and Clark County is packed with dots, but so is most of California. But when you shade the dots based on homeless population per capita, all of sudden Southern Nevada jumps out:

Uh oh. This shows in a way that tables and charts can’t just how bad we’re doing at addressing homelessness in the Las Vegas valley, not only compared to the rest of the west, but to most of the country.

Why is this? Keep playing the map and one can make an educated guess. Let’s look at welfare spending per capita:

Okay, not good but also not much worse that other places. How about health spending per capita?

Getting warmer. Now keeping those two in mind, let’s look at per capita spending on housing and community development:

So there you have it. This map makes it clear that we have huge holes in the safety net that’s supposed to keep people from becoming homeless – financial assistance for the poor, mental healthcare and protection from bankrupting medical bills, and affordable housing. This is also just the latest in a series of research highlighting how critical it is for Southern Nevada to better address its affordable housing needs.