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RISE to take over CrossRoads program for men dealing with substance use disorders

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A program formerly run by Catholic Charities and, later, a for-profit company will now be managed by a local nonprofit, the Reno Initiative For Shelter and Equality. Washoe County commissioners today approved RISE to start managing its CrossRoads for men program. 

The approval effectively doubles the county’s contract with the nonprofit, which already runs the Our Place shelter and the women’s Crossroads program. The men’s Crossroads program will also move as part of the new agreement. Commissioners approved an 11-year lease to move the program to West Fifth Street.

“We’re really excited to bring our community-as-method philosophy to our brothers over in the men’s program,” RISE’s Executive Director Ben Castro told This Is Reno. “That will be starting June 3. So we are counting 12 days down.”

The program is for those moving out of homelessness who are suffering from substance use disorders, but unlike other programs, Castro said CrossRoads focuses on individual needs.

“If we keep trying to apply a cookie-cutter model to people and wonder why they keep flunking out, maybe there’s something flawed with the program.”

“The community-as-method model is huge with the CrossRoads brand,” Castro added. “What that means is that we recognize people’s autonomy. We don’t tell them to get a job, take out a loan, go to school, buy a house, have kids and [say], ‘this is what success looks like.’ Not everybody wants to go to school and have kids.

“[People] identify what their goals are, and we’re there to support and facilitate the resources it takes for them to pursue their goals. That’s the community-as-method model.”

Castro said that approach is critical because one-size-fits-all models do not work.

“If we keep trying to apply a cookie-cutter model to people and wonder why they keep flunking out, maybe there’s something flawed with the program,” he said. “So this program is much more fluid, much more dynamic, and it respects people’s individuality.”

Castro also said RISE will hire about 17 new employees, some of whom are leaving their current employer running the program to continue working at CrossRoads under RISE. 

River Stewards work to clean up trash and other waste in the Truckee River as part of a program spearheaded by Karma Box Project.
River Stewards work to clean up trash and other waste in the Truckee River as part of a program spearheaded by Karma Box Project in 2021. Bob Conrad / THIS IS RENO

RISE restarts ‘river stewards’ program

The former Karma Box “river stewards” program has changed and is being managed by RISE as of May 1. Similar to how it was run under Karma Box, people experiencing homelessness can work to clean up the river. Castro said RISE pays people $20 an hour. That income can then be leveraged for housing vouchers. 

“It’s an employment-first, as a pathway to housing, model,” he said. 

The stewards work the length of the river through Reno and Sparks. Castro said he hopes to eventually convert the six part-time employees to three full-time employees. 

Truckee Meadows Water Authority is funding the program. During its recent grant cycle, the program is one of eight TMWA funded through its Truckee River Fund. The fund is from TMWA customer service fees.

 “The River Stewarts Project … was selected for its direct benefit of reducing the amount of trash in the Truckee River Watershed, trash accumulation being a serious threat to the health of the river and the entire community,” said Sonia Folsom, TMWA’s liaison to Truckee River Fund. 

TMWA officials said the fund has been used for more than 200 projects that protect the Truckee River, improve watershed and water quality and educate the community.

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.

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