An estimated 7,000 people in the Reno area are without a fixed address, and many of them live in the elements. With snowstorms occurring for two days straight, local advocates have launched an emergency fundraiser to get the unsheltered a warm place to say in motels or hotels.
Meghan Simons, founder of Reno/Sparks Mutual Aid, said Patrick Sean Carter wanted to pay for at least 20 families to get a hotel room for however long $20,000 would carry them.
“Homeless people will freeze to death over the next couple of nights if we don’t get them rooms,” Carter wrote online. “I’m matching the first $20,000 donated and guaranteeing to donate at least that much. Just started but so far we have 9 rooms so at least 18 people won’t die. If you know safe hotels/motels we can make a deal with please reach out.”
The Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality has stepped in to help and is hosting the fundraiser. More than $5,000 has been raised so far.
Homeless advocates said a lack of responsiveness from elected officials and city staff is contributing to the problem.
Local advocate Natalie Handler wrote to most all elected politicians in the Reno area and said she did not get a single response.
“While you and I are lucky enough to sleep in a warm home tonight, our unhoused neighbors are fighting to survive the cold,” she said. “Some folks will likely succumb to frostbite, hypothermia and some may even die in this storm, and many of them will end up in our already maxed-out hospitals. This government cannot saddle the responsibility for caring for our most vulnerable population on our healthcare workers and first responders any longer.”
This Is Reno has been documenting annual deaths of people living without shelter. Washoe County reported a record number in 2020 of nearly 50 homeless people who died.
Those wishing to donate can visit the campaign here: https://donorbox.org/2021-winter-fundraiser