Las Vegas bans the homeless from sleeping on some streets. Critics call it a ‘war on the poor’

Amid protests and boos, the Las Vegas City Council voted Wednesday to ban homeless people from sleeping on some city streets, a controversial measure that critics have called a ‘‘war on the poor.’’

The new ordinance, passed at a contentious council meeting, makes it a misdemeanor for homeless people to camp or sleep on the streets if beds at established shelters are available. The new restrictions would apply to certain parts of the city’s downtown area, but not the Las Vegas Strip, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.

Officials argued the legislation was ‘‘aimed at getting the city’s homeless population off the streets and connected with services,’’ Fox 5 reported. But Mayor Carolyn Goodman, a sponsor of the bill, and the City Council faced a raucous demonstration from activists as the law passed 5-2.


Demonstrators flooded the chamber with chants of ‘‘Housing, not handcuffs! and ‘‘Hey hey, ho ho — the war on the poor has got to go!’’

Goodman portrayed the new law as ‘‘the beginning seed to build something that will flourish,’’ according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

‘‘This is flawed,’’ she said, ‘‘but it is a start.’’

The law goes into effect Sunday but would not be enforced until Feb. 1, 2020, the Journal reported.

Violators could face up to six months in jail or fines up to $1,000.

Numerous Democratic presidential candidates spoke out against the ordinance, ahead of and after the vote, including Julián Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary, who toured homeless encampments in Las Vegas earlier this year and spoke at an October protest outside city hall.