Today’s Reno City Council special meeting was met with people expressing concerns about downtown developments that are displacing low-income citizens.
“Nobody is denying the need for addressing blight or is trying to stand in the way of responsible redevelopment,” said Mike Thornton of ACTIONN, a faith-based organizing group. “What we’re talking about is smart planning and planning ahead.”
Thornton asked for a show of hands among audience members. He asked who is concerned about gentrification and being displaced by new development. The majority raised their hands.
The meeting was meant to discuss, in part, “enhancing community resiliency through disaster preparedness,” and the Reno/Sparks NAACP and ACTIONN members said the situation in Reno has reached crisis levels, which prompted their appearance at the meeting.
The lack of affordable housing was cited as a dire situation in the Reno area.
Attendees pleaded with the council for help, saying Section 8 housing is closed and that there is a
waiting list for affordable housing.
“(The Standard) is putting us on the street,” said Susan Leak. “The housing is not good for us seniors. We need help. I know you’re aware of it.”
Mayor Hillary Schieve said that she would be discussing the concerns with ACTIONN and the developer of The Standard.
Councilman Paul McKenzie said he sympathizes with those affected by development.
“We sat in a meeting yesterday… discussing the homeless issue, low income housing issues, (and) we’re extending that issue with what’s happening in downtown Reno,” he said. “I completely sympathize with the citizens that live (downtown).”
Schieve added, “I think this council is very concerned about development moving forward. We realize it’s a very serious issue. You have a very caring council.”
She praised the audience for showing up.
“We want to make sure something gets done,” she said.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.