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Homeless camp sweeps, cleanups to resume with opening of Cares Campus May 10


The City of Reno is preparing for the Nevada Cares Campus to open in a little more than two weeks after several delays.

The 46,000-square-foot facility at the Governor’s Bowl off Fourth Street will replace the Community Assistance Center and the temporary tent structure adjacent to it. Volunteers of America, which operates the shelters, will begin transitioning beds to the new shelter next week. People staying in the temporary tent structure will begin moving there the week after.

The official opening date for the campus is May 17, but city officials have stressed that anyone seeking shelter will be allowed in when the transition from the temporary shelter is completed May 10.

The shelter will have three types of rooms, including space for couples, an area for people with pets and a general area. There will be 450 beds and 450 lockers inside the shelter. The facility will also have four self-contained shower and restroom units with a total of 32 private stalls.

There is also 10 acres of space for homeless services to operate and an additional five acres that will be used by the Reno Housing Authority in the future to build low-income and transitional housing.

The city’s Clean and Safe Team has been notifying the unsheltered population in preparation for the opening. 

Camp sweeps and cleanup operations will begin May 10. City officials have said that people will be forced to move from those areas rather than being allowed to move back into their camps immediately following cleanups.

The city has divided the river corridor into 11 zones, and cleanup operations across the zones are expected to take place over a 10-week period. City spokesperson Jon Humbert said people will be referred to the Cares Campus, and citations may be given to those who do not vacate camps on the river. 

City officials have said compacts like the Martis Creek agreement require them to keep the river “safe and well-maintained.”

Homeless camp cleanups have been widely criticized as a result of threatening and harassing behavior by Reno police officers conducting them. Media members have in the past been denied access to cover these operations and threatened with detainment. 

A dumpster of trash overflowed near a homeless camp in downtown Reno after a cleanup June 3, 2020. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

There were 401 outreach and cleanup operations in 2020 removing more than 3,500 yards of waste and 480 gallons of biohazard materials. City officials say the Clean and Safe Team issued more than 1,700 notifications ahead of these activities.

In addition to the cleanliness of the river, city officials cite a 125% increase in 2020 in the number of indigent fires to which the Reno Fire Department had to respond. The Reno Police Department has received nearly 2,500 shelter-related calls since January of 2020.

Despite criticisms, city officials say the Clean and Safe Team and community action officers are having increasing success with their outreach efforts. 

In 2020, the Clean and Safe Team made nearly 4,000 contacts with unsheltered individuals to offer services with only 98 of those resulting in accepted help. So far this year, though, the team has made 513 contacts and seen 222 accepted offers for services. 

The city’s community action officers made 875 contacts in 2020, of which 62 resulted in unsheltered individuals accepting services. The officers have thus far made more than 1,000 contacts in 2021, with 47 of those resulting in accepted services.

Jeri Chadwell
Jeri Chadwellhttp://thisisreno.com
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.