Increasing housing and consolidating social services can reduce the number of homeless in Nevada within the next decade, a Bush administration official said in a meeting this week with state officials.
More legislative support also is needed to address the problem, said Philip Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
"We've had our sleeves rolled up at the front line of the issue, and we haven't made progress," Mangano said Tuesday. "We need to have outcomes of fewer homeless people."
Statistics show 10 percent of the homeless use more than 50 percent of public resources, including emergency medical and law enforcement services, psychiatric treatment and shelters, Mangano said.
That should get the attention of lawmakers, he said.
Mangano was appointed by President Bush in 2002. He said governors and mayors across the country have agreed to participate in a 10-year plan to end homelessness.
Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn has not yet studied the plan, spokesman Greg Bortolin said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines the chronically homeless as people with a disabling condition who have been continuously homeless for a year or more, or who have had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.
Anne Cory, president and chief of the United Way in northern Nevada, said the 10-year plan has three main priorities: to provide stable housing, bring agency and elected officials together to address homelessness, and incorporate a housing model into the state.
"It's not about shelters. It's about having houses and apartments where they can live," Cory said.
Once adequate housing is available, resources will be shifted and more services will be provided to the homeless, Cory said.
An April count conducted by Clark County and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas found 7,887 homeless people within the county, an 18 percent increase from 1999.
Cory estimated between 4,000 and 5,000 homeless people live in the Reno and Sparks area.