Reno community members, business owners, and advocates for the houseless gathered in city hall Tuesday to discuss the possibility of an overflow homeless shelter at 250 Sage street.
Elaine Wiseman, from the city’s community development department, and Tillery Williams, from the city manager’s office, ran the event to get feedback from the community both for and against the project. Both took time to explain that this project was only a possibility and that nothing was finalized. Wiseman added that while they understood that people had questions, the focus of the evening was to get feedback about the proposal.
Williams and Wiseman gave a brief PowerPoint to explain the homeless situation in Reno and more specifically about the possibilities of the Sage Street location.
The building would be in the 10,000 to 20,000 square-foot range with and an industrial kitchen, eating area, possibly kennels, and other longer term projects like tiny homes alongside the additional 150 beds the building could provide.
A few speakers voiced their support quickly, taking less than their given two minutes to congratulate Reno on looking forward and dealing with the homeless issue.
Others like J.D. Klippenstein of ACTIONN voiced more detailed reasons for their support. He said that a reduction in homelessness can provide economic gain for a variety of reasons. One supporter said that a study concluded that incarcerating the homeless cost more than three times the cost of providing housing.
Max McCombs, a self-proclaimed business owner in the vicinity of the proposed overflow shelter, said he was was against the proposal and argued with local advocate Chip Evans about the issue. He said it would be catastrophic for businesses in the area and voiced concerns of possible toxic waste on the site. City Code Enforcement Manager Alex Woodley said that the site may need environmental remediation.
He was followed by other business owners, some less critical but still with concerns.
As most of the crowd shuffled out of City Hall, a group of business owners gathered around Wiseman asking questions and adding more comments.
McCombs said that he would file an injunction if the city pursued action at 250 Sage Street in order to delay the project for years.
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