Visiting “Terrible’s Town”

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Las Vegas outreach team finds “homesteaders” in Pahrump, Nev.


TJ, a resident of “Terrible’s Town,” stands outside his home in the desert near Pahrump, Nev. Photo by Kevin Whalen

Volunteers from the Las Vegas Salvation Army’s PATH—Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness—ventured to Pahrump, Nev., for outreach and discovered “Terrible’s Town.”

While team members Melina Castro and Kevin Whalen served coffee from the Army canteen (mobile kitchen), a few homeless individuals told them about the two encampments—Terrible’s Town—behind Smith’s Grocery and the Nugget Casino.

In the first camp, Castro and Whalen served coffee and water, and filled water jugs for the residents, who refer to themselves as “homesteaders.”

“I’ve been here for seven years,” said Mary, one inhabitant. “I’ve never seen anything like this [canteen] before. I’m so thankful.”

The second camp included trailers spread out across the desert with many individuals and a few dogs. Homesteaders told the team that the land is private property, but the owner doesn’t mind their presence. A pastor from Helping Hands for Jesus donated most of the campers.

The team connected with a number of the camp’s residents. The husband of one is currently a beneficiary in the Reno (Nev.) Adult Rehabilitation Center; the woman asked for help contacting him. Following conversations with the team, a young man is now utilizing a Salvation Army program to gain stability and end his cycle of homelessness. An expectant mother, due in early December, shared with the team about her pregnancy and that the baby’s father had just started full-time employment.

The homesteaders most requested blankets, propane, transportation and dog food.

“Outreach to Pahrump has the potential to grow a relationship with these desperate people in need,” Castro said. “The outreach team is looking forward to giving hope to the homeless people of Pahrump in any way we can.”

PATH began in 1992 with federal funding to provide outreach, intervention, assessment and supportive case management services for homeless people with a serious mental illness. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development chose the Las Vegas PATH as one of seven “exemplary programs” from 360 programs operated nationwide.



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