The Nevada Cares Campus’ opening is being delayed again. Delivery of restrooms, showers and lockers were cited as a reason for the delay, City Manager Doug Thornley said last week during the community homeless advisory board meeting.
The campus is expected to be the central location for homeless services and temporary shelter and camping.
The opening is now scheduled for April 30 with additional construction activity taking place through June 15. Phases two and three will occur pending future funding. Thornley said private fundraising is critical for those phases.
Washoe County officials last week also said no pets will be allowed at the soon-to-be-opened open camping part of Cares Campus — the bowl area of the former ballfield.
Thornley said a dog run is being constructed starting April 15 near the large tent part of the property, but Assistant County Manager Kate Thomas said construction activity would prohibit having pets at the bowl area, which is expected to open in May.
“We have hit some snafus moving forward,” she said. “In order to get infrastructure into that bowl, it’s going to take a number of months.”
Pets, people and property are cited as the “three Ps” that inhibit individuals experiencing homelessness from seeking shelter and services. The Community Assistance Center has limited space for personal belongings, couples are not allowed and nor are pets.
“I don’t know how we would keep pets from running into that area,” Thomas said of the bowl, which she said is an active construction site due to the needed utility infrastructure.
Thomas also said security at the campus will not be law-enforcement focused.
“We want to meet people where they’re at,” she said. “Of course, there will be rules.”
Reno Council member Neoma Jardon said she wanted to find a solution to having pets at both parts of the site.
Law enforcement vows “enforcement actions” once Cares Campus opens
Police said they have been meeting with homeless advocates about getting people off the Truckee River and to the campus once opened.
Reno Police Deputy Chief Ollie Miller said area law enforcement agencies have been in close coordination about “hot spots” of homeless activity.
“We’ve been in close communication with one another regarding our outreach efforts, the hotspots in town and the timing of our operations because obviously we want to make those coincide with the opening of the Cares Campus,” he said.
He said there will be “enforcement actions” against the homeless once the shelter opens. Although Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said she does not want law enforcement officers anywhere near unsheltered individuals, Miller said they conduct regular operations particularly along Truckee River.
“I do not want police officers interacting with our homeless population in any capacity,” Schieve said at a recent city council meeting. “I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s humane.”
However, the outreach conducted is to connect those living on the river with resources, such as help with securing identification and providing transportation to care facilities. Many are resistant to those services due to the inability to address the 3 Ps.
Officials are expected to brief the news media about more specific details about how they will get homeless people off the river and to the Cares Campus. Officials said they expect the process to take several months.
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 appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.