Low-Income Residents Being Moved to Make Way for Arts District, Affordable Housing

Ralston Street property purchase prompts low-income residents to find a new place to live.
Ralston Street property purchase prompts low-income residents to find a new place to live.

A recently announced property makeover by Colorado’s Jacobs Entertainment has some residents looking for a new place to live.

Those living at two boarding houses on Ralston Street said that they are being evicted by the previous property owners to make way for new owners Jacobs Entertainment, which owns Gold Dust West at Fourth and Vine.

The company announced recently that it plans to improve the Sands Regency and nearby properties in partnership with the Reno Housing Authority.

Gold Dust West’s Jim Buchanan said today that the previous owner had six months to have the property vacated and was issuing eviction notices, but when Gold Dust West’s owners found out some residents were still in place, they backed off on the evictions.

“We purchased it six months ago, and in the agreement there was a clause that the owner … the owner wanted to keep the place for six months, and then we would take over,” he said. “We figured he would spend those six months relocating people.”

A call and email to Dean Willeford, listed on the Nevada Secretary of State’s website as co-manager of Raulston LLC, along with Lan Dunham, the previous owners, was not returned by the time of publication.

“Some of course couldn’t find a place, or didn’t find a place, either way, and when we took over on May 1, or right before we took over, maybe a few days before, he (Willeford) put notices on there that they would have to vacate by May 1,” Buchanan said. “We weren’t aware of that, but when we found out about it … we met with the previous owner, we took all of his notices off and put notices on their door saying, ‘No, they don’t have to leave right away.’

“That was never our intention.”

Although the new notices didn’t detail placement assistance, Buchanan said that they are helping existing residents move into new places, including paying the difference in cost for any new housing for up to six months.

“In the long run we plan on remodeling them or taking them down,” he added.

A visit to the house today revealed two residents moving out, both of whom said they were evicted after paying rent to Willeford in April.

“Basically, he (Willeford), the prior owner, collected rent and then handed out eviction notices, some as short as five days,” said Jen Cassady of the Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality, which is also helping the residents find new places to live.

Former resident Bernard Walker said that being an ex-felon, along with living off of $735 a month in Social Security benefits, made it difficult to find a new place to live.

“I moved out on (May 3) down the street at $600 a month,” he said, adding that he was paying about $400 a month for his room on Ralston Street. “Where can I go? These people seem to have no compassion for anything or anybody except for the money.”

Cassady said that close to 40 people are being evicted, but Buchanan said that number is closer to 20.

Buchanan also explained that there is no timeline to move the remaining residents.

Mayor Hillary Schieve lauded the west-of-downtown property makeover when it was first announced.

“We are excited about the plans of Jacobs Entertainment to create a vibrant new arts-oriented district along Fourth Street,” she said. “At the same time, the transaction provides a significant boost to the work of the Reno Housing Authority and its mission of providing decent and affordable housing to the community.”

About Bob Conrad 766 Articles
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.

5 Comments

  1. The West part of downtown has been long overdue for improvement and redevelopment.

    While some residents may be displaced temporarily, they are being offered help and
    financial assistance in finding a new location.

    In the long run I feel that the new affordable housing and arts oriented
    improvements will benefit the community as this area was considered blighted.

    • This area is greatly underutilized but it is important to review the conditions leading to this article and remedy illegal eviction actions that have occurred.

      Additionally, the ‘assistance offered’ to residents was vague until this article was being researched – implementation of the current assistance still suspect. This developer has some catch up to do if they want to earn goodwill from the communities impacted by their project.

  2. If anyone thinks this “re-development ” will be anything but commercial gaming you need to wake up…..

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