Getting It Done in the Southwest
by Anthony Stasi
May 20, 2010 | 7419 views | 0 0 comments | 216 216 recommendations | email to a friend | print
You might expect the Southwest to be a little hot as we get closer to summer, but May is usually the windy month for states like Nevada and Arizona. It may be windy, but the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition and its Committee on Homelessness isn't full of hot air.

The common assumption by non-residents is that the homeless in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas are former gamblers, drifters from California, or people that were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. Homelessness can often have a two-year lag when it comes to national economic events, meaning that if the economy falters in 2008, the real effects will kick in around 2010. Many of the homeless in this region are mentally ill, according to Continuum of Care Coordinator Michele Fuller-Hallauer.

Fuller-Hallauer and Shannon West are part of a small team that oversees homeless policy in this area. From the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition, there are then other organizations and committees that gel into an effective team that has seen family homelessness drop – in this economy – by 300 percent with a 20 percent drop in street homelessness.

It is still a serious issue in this part of the country, however, since so many of Las Vegas’ homeless are self-medicating. The coalition designates Friday Connects, which are opportunities for all social services to come together on Fridays and make services one-stop shopping for the city’s poorest.

Fuller-Hallauer and West have offices that are in the social services building on Pinto Lane, and while the first floor is crowded with people looking for assistance, Fuller-Hallauer says that it is not as bad as it used to be.

The Next Big Thing - Nikki Haley

The scandal with South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford became a national story only because many people saw Sanford as presidential timber. After November, however, he will not even be gubernatorial timber. The primary race has no less than seven contenders, four Republicans and three Democrats. If neither party can produce a candidate that gets at least 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff. With the polls showing no clear frontrunner in either party, it looks like there will definitely be a runoff, two weeks after the June 8th primary.

In the Republican mix is Nikki Haley, a mother of two, who is now a state legislator. Haley is the daughter of Indian Punjabi Sikh immigrants. At 38 years old, Haley is running for governor of South Carolina as a fiscal conservative, but she is still not very well known in her own state, at least not yet. The crowded race means Haley can build up a core area of support while remaining under the radar. In other words, Saturday Night Live has not taken out its cutlery just yet.

None of this is to suggest that the Republicans can even win this race, although they have more candidates in the primary race – including the current lieutenant governor. What Haley’s candidacy, which is gaining ground weekly, says is that the GOP might not be scoring runs in droves, but it does have a farm system. People who assume the only candidates coming from this side of the aisle are only white and male might be surprised in the next few election cycles.

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