City Looking To Open New Overflow Shelter for The Homeless

Advocates for the homeless protest at City Hall
Advocates for the homeless protested at City Hall last fall.

Reno’s homeless population lost a critical resource last week when the city’s emergency overflow shelter flooded and was shut down.

“The events that occurred at the original overflow location were unforeseeable and unfortunate, but the city is dedicated to helping solve this difficult situation,” said Mayor Hillary Schieve.

The shelter is operated by the City of Reno and Volunteers of America (VOA) of Northern Nevada. It holds up to 66 men and 40 women.

It is a temporary shelter to house homeless citizens when the Community Assistance Center (CAC) shelters are full.

City officials said that they have identified a location for the new overflow shelter and are negotiating a lease. The new location is expected to open later next week after remodeling for security and sanitary purposes is finished.

In the meantime, the CAC shelter has homeless citizens sleeping while sitting at tables, according to a Reno Gazette-Journal report.

Matt Ferencevich, a client of the VOA, described the current sleeping arrangement as uncomfortable. The room where overflow people are sleeping includes small round tables, square stools and chairs against the wall. The lights stay on all day. People must keep their shoes on and cannot cover their heads, he said.”

The city, however, said staff are making changes to at the CAC to “allow occupants to sleep laying down to the extent that it does not hamper compliance with the Reno Fire Department and Building Division’s safety regulations.”

UPDATE (3:25 p.m.): City officials said that Northern Nevada Hopes and Reno Sparks Gospel Mission are housing 37 42 individuals, which allows overflow shelter inhabitants to lay down and sleep more comfortably.

UPDATE (10:20 a.m.): Councilwoman Naomi Duerr posted the following on Facebook:

Neoma Jardon says that the city began looking for another shelter the same night as the flood. Mayor Hillary Schieve, City Manager Andrew Clinger, Pat Cashell (VOA- CAC Manager), Elaine Weisman (City of Reno) and Sharon Chamberlain (No. NV Hopes) have been working hard to secure additional sleeping space until a replacement shelter opens.

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Bob Conrad is proprietor and co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: client work includes projects funded by grants through UNR) and is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College. He is a contributor to Reno Public Radio.