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Homeless encampment cleanup continues, relocation options limited for women


Monica Plummer has been homeless for seven years. She lived at the encampment underneath the Wells Avenue overpass, which today was being cleared for the second time in about a week. 

Plummer recently got a job, but she said she was forced to move into a weekly motel as a result of the sweeps. The Nevada Cares Campus has no more space for women, and the Our Place women’s shelter is also full. 

“I’ve been working for [the Volunteers of America] for three weeks now,” she said. “Single women cannot stay at the Cares Campus right now.”

Pat Cashell with VOA confirmed today the Cares Campus has reached its limit for females, with 49 staying there. 

“We will be working with Our Place to take women who are eligible for their program,” he said.

Ben Castro with the Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality also confirmed Our Place is essentially full. 

One bed is available, “but I don’t expect that to stay open for long,” he said. “We are at capacity hosting 138 women and 38 families.”

Community advocates are helping individuals move their campsites from the Wells Avenue overpass area as the city continues clean up work on May 25, 2021. Space for men and pets is still available at the Nevada Cares Campus, but not for women. Image: Bob Conrad / This Is Reno

City crews continued bulldozing the east side of the massive encampment. The area cleared last week is empty and fenced.

City of Reno spokesperson Jon Humbert said the city owns the property under the Wells Avenue overpass but will be selling it to the Reno Aces. 

Previously described by Humbert as worse than “a murder scene,” the area today was littered with debris and people gradually moving out of the area. Homeless advocates were on hand assisting with moving people.

Natalie Handler said she and her colleagues have been doing direct outreach to those needing to move. She said they moved about 30 people in recent days. 

When asked where they went, she said most went to other locations to camp.

Plummer said the reason for that is because not all options are available until the safe camp portion of the Cares Campus, expected to open next month, is open.

“What’s wrong is starting to clean it up with nowhere for us to go,” Plummer said of the scene today. “If you’re going to make it so that everybody has a place to go, then this would’ve been fine — however, single women like me have nowhere to go. What are they gonna do?”

Members of the Washoe Board of County Commissioners will review today a staff report requesting $3.2 million to support development and construction of the Cares Campus safe camp site and Homeless Housing Sprung Facility improvements.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
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. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.