In 2020, The Free Thought Project reported on the work of two groups, Food Not Bombs and the Sidewalk Project, who raised $16,000 and built 26 tiny homes in Las Vegas for the city’s homeless community. It was an amazing feat put together by a handful of caring people trying to better their community but it came to a chaotic and destructive end when police and city officials raided the camp and destroyed all the homes.
The City of Las Vegas claimed that the destruction of the homes was justified as the city maintains “this right of way for NDOT, the property owner.” Joey Lankowski, who does homeless outreach with Food Not Bombs, sought to remedy this problem of building tiny homes on public property by raising money to purchase their own swath of land on private property.
Since last year, members of Food Not Bombs, the Sidewalk Project, and the New Leaf Community have been working tirelessly, volunteering countless hours of their personal time, to build a community of tiny homes on this newly owned piece of property.
For months volunteers built the tiny homes and allowed the community’s houseless population to live on the property. The community was thriving until earlier this year when the bureaucratic police state set their sights on the project’s private property.
The code enforcement division of the Las Vegas city government claimed that the property was in violation of zoning ordinance NLVMC 17.20.10 which states that the “accessory uses are not permitted” on the private property. According to the notice, a single family residence must be on the property before the tiny homes could be built and heavy fines would follow if they did not get “up to code.”
Since then, the city has waged an immoral war against the tiny home community and levied even more seemingly frivolous ordinance violations.
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Lankowski tells TFTP that they were in the process of getting everything to code and the deadline for compliance was April 26. Despite this effort to conform to the government’s demands, on Thursday the 21st, five days BEFORE the deadline, cops and code enforcers showed up to the private property and destroyed all the hard work put in by the community.
“The whole purpose of Code Enforcement is supposed to be about safety,” Lankowski tells TFTP via email. “How is demolishing their homes and forcing them back on the streets the ‘safe’ thing to do here?!”
Lankowski points out how other municipalities actually help fund projects like theirs but in Las Vegas, the tyrant class actively seeks to destroy them.
“Our structures are safe and many tiny home communities have existed for years all across the country using these very same structures and the local governments in those cities actually back the orgs doing this work by proving land and funding. Unfortunately our local governments aren’t interested in solutions. We don’t want money or land from then. We can do everything ourselves, we just want them to get the fuck out of the way and allow us to help one another without being attacked, robbed, and imprisoned,” he told TFTP.
In a video posted to the Food Not Bombs Instagram account, you can witness how opposed to self-sustainability and community outreach the city of Las Vegas is. In the video, more than a dozen cops are on the scene to oversee the destruction of the tiny home community, many of them armed with AR-15s — to tear down the homes of poor people on private property that has been donated to them from the community.
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“Sign clearly states no demolition to take place. ‘Not a demolition order,'” Lankowski said. “But then they went ahead and demolished everything anyway without giving us any notice of the demolition ahead of time or granting us any due process as is required by law.”
When Lankowski attempted to park on his own property to voice his concern over this lack of due process, he was arrested.
Even more egregious is the fact that the city has since fined and charged Lankowski with a slew of contrived charges and is attempting to steal the property.
“Then the very next day they came again and charged me with 10 misdemeanors. I couldn’t even make anything out on the citations. They came 3 days in a row with different notices none of which mentioned anything about an impending demolition. One actually specifically said that it wasn’t a demolition order. And now they have charged me over $13k for the demolition because they are trying to levy so many fines hoping that I can’t pay so that they can steal the property out from under me. We paid $14k for the property and they wanna extort us for $13k for their crimes against humanity. I don’t think so.
We don’t think so either. If you’d like to let the city of Las Vegas know how you feel about them demolishing tiny homes built to help the community and lift people out of poverty, you can do so at the following numbers:
John J Lee, Mayor — 702.633.1007
NLV Code Enforcement — 702.633.1677
Alfredo Melesio Jr., Assistant City Manager — 702.633.2948
Micaela R. Moore, City Attorney — 702.633.1050
If you would like to monetarily support the project, you can do so at their PayPal link, here.