LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Drainage tunnels ended up being thinned of people living in them out for security reasons for Formula 1 and the Super Bowl. A homeless outreach group, Shine A Light, says many people who left have not returned.

“The numbers are way lower in the central area, around the Strip corridor. People have started to trickle back in but nowhere near where they were,” said Shine A Light Outreach Director Robert Banghart.

Banghart says prior to the two big events, about 50 people were living inside a tunnel near the Rio. He estimates there are only about eight to nine people in their now.

FOX5 asked the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department if it will do anything extra to keep people out of tunnels in the future now that F1 and the Super Bowl are over.

“Homelessness is a community problem, and it is the duty of all patrol officers to enforce statutes and ordinances in areas they are assigned during their shift. As you may know, the Homeless Outreach Team is a designated group of officers that is equipped with resources and knowledge not readily available to patrol officers. The team was implemented with the goal of bringing resources and training to the unhoused individuals within Clark County throughout the year. This includes neighborhoods, tunnels and any other areas where unhoused people may frequent,” said LVMPD.

Shine A Light goes into tunnels and offers resources and a way out of life in the tunnels, for those who choose. It is illegal to be in tunnels and washes. And while some people who live in them may not welcome a visit by police, Banghart says the group has a good relationship with the department and sees contacts by police as another opportunity for people to get help.

Banghart says he too was homeless and lived in tunnels near downtown. He says it took a while to realize police were trying to help him.

“So, when I was ready I could think about that. People cared. People were trying to help me. Sometimes when you’re lost in your addiction, you’re lost in homelessness it’s very hard to understand all of that because you’re blocked. The moment I was ready, that was the stuff that came flooding in and I’ve thanked every officer that I’ve met since,” said Banghart.

The group says it has had many successes in providing detox, housing and a stable living environment for many who live in tunnels and other homeless residents. The group is hosting a graduation event on March 30. It is set for 12pm at 401 South Maryland Parkway. About 30 people are set to graduate.


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