Reporting by Jordan Gearey
As the Reno-Tahoe area recently experienced its first big snowfall of the new year, and braces itself for flooding in the days ahead, many of Northern Nevada’s less fortunate are struggling and at risk in the harsh conditions.
With all the recent snow, more affluent and athletic residents may be gearing up for winter sports, but Reno’s homeless population is mostly struggling to find a warm and dry place.
It could get worse with floods being predicted in the coming days.
Doug, 64, lights up a cigarette while walking on 4th street near the area's only permanent and always filled to capacity shelter. He only gave his first name.
"There’s a lot of homeless people here, you know they’re hunkered down under the freeways and along the river and they’re cold," he said.
Worse than Ever?
Doug says he’s been living in the area since 1980.
He says he believes the homeless problem is worse now than he’s ever seen it. He says he would like to see more help from the community.
"It’s going to take a while to do something with this. Definitely."
Doug says he’s living in a motel for the moment with his wife while he prepares for a job interview.
Navigating the System
Another man Jason, who was right outside the shelter, says he is currently without a place to sleep. Jason also didn’t give his last name. He said he found it difficult to maneuver the system for available services, including filling out applications.
"It’s actually very hard to find shelter, food, anything. You pretty much get taken off lists. Put on lists. You gotta wait three months to be on a list. You gotta wait it out."
There is currently just one official shelter in the Reno/Sparks area, and one temporary overflow shelter, also in downtown Reno, for those seeking a place to sleep on cold nights.
Jason said he would want more options for shelter.
"Maybe open another warehouse for the overflow so they have a spot to go. Cause it’s pretty hard," he said.
Reporting by Jordan Gearey for Our Town Reno