Nevada Directs Almost $2 Million Of Marijuana Revenue To Help Homeless

It's a good case study of how legal marijuana can help states.

A county in Nevada has earmarked nearly $2 million of the revenue made from the legal marijuana industry to go towards HELP of Southern Nevada, an organization providing shelter and resources to homeless youth.

The Clark County Commission budgeted $9.7 million from cannabis licensing fees to go towards reducing homelessness, KNPR in Nevada reported. That $1.8 million they officially earmarked is the first round of funding drawn from marijuana licensing fees that the county is putting towards that initiative.

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"Our commission, they're a bold bunch of people, and they took some leadership and initiative, and they knew there was an issue that needed additional financing to bring resources to the table to fill in some gaps and to do some innovative programming," Mike Pawlak, director of Clark County Social Services, told KNPR's State of Nevada.

HELP of Southern Nevada works with disadvantaged youth and people who were recently discharged from a long hospital stay with nowhere to go. Some 6,000 people are homeless in Southern Nevada, the county said, and more than 1,000 of those were younger than 25. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will go towards adding beds at homeless youth shelters, according to The Associated Press. 

One key advantage of this money going towards the program instead of federal dollars is that it comes with fewer strings attached, Michelle Fuller-Hallauer — a manager at Clark County Social Services — told KNPR.

"These dollars are more flexible," she said, "So they will allow us to fill the gaps on things that our other funding doesn't allow us to pay for."

HELP of Southern Nevada also plans to hire 10 new staff members to manage nearly one hundred new beds being added to a homeless youth shelter. While the social service workers acknowledge this won't end homelessness in Southern Nevada, they say the funding is a huge help and will put a major dent in the problem. 

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