Sparks Police Officer Damon O’Connell today said homeless people who have been camping at Gateway Park are being asked to leave by tomorrow so the city can clean up the park.
The news of the cleanup was spread today on social media with homeless advocates criticizing the decision. It had been their understanding people could camp there, something that was reported by KRNV just last week. They said there is no viable place for the people to stay and freezing weather will complicate having to move their belongings.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend against moving the unsheltered if no other options are available. City of Reno officials recently said some bed space is available at local shelters, but space is limited.
“If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are,” the CDC maintains.
O’Connell said two people who were living at the park accepted services and help and are now living elsewhere.
On scene helping the folks get organized and ready to move was Kurt, who said he was with the Karma Box Project. “There are about 15 to 20 tents and about thirty people,” he explained, “and we have until tomorrow to move these people out of here.” However, he explained there were some issues. He does not like to see the unhoused get pushed around nor have their stuff be taken.
“Instead of clearing out the homeless and throwing away their belongings like many other communities, Sparks has taken a different approach. In fact, police welcome the homeless at Gateway Park at 21st and Greg streets,” KRNV reported.
That appears to have changed since the story was aired last week. O’Connell said the removal and cleanup will start tomorrow, Wednesday at about 8 a.m.
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 from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time research appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.