The Wednesday early afternoon meeting began at Reno’s City Council with activists reacting angrily to reports the Nevada Department of Transportation would start using armed guards to move homeless people away from areas near freeway corridors, as well as befuddlement benches are being taken out at local bus stops to prevent the less fortunate from resting there or that motels with affordable weeklies are being torn down, rather than fixed to help those living there.
Is Reno becoming a cold-hearted city, wondered one early speaker, while another called it a “class war against the homeless.”
Mike Thornton from the group ACTIONN suggested Reno should take lessons from Seattle, which in May 2015, passed resolution 31577, stating core values of race and social equity would serve as one of the foundations for their city planning. He also called for appropriate leadership, and transparent action as the city addresses the staggering local lack of affordable housing.
Last in the Country in Affordable Housing
Among the presentations, Eric Novak from the Praxis Consulting Group, who has worked on several Reno affordable housing projects, said by many metrics Nevada is at the bottom of state-by-state lists to provide such opportunities for its least affluent.
Another speaker from the Vecino group lauded tax-credit supported housing, using public funds and other assistance to help developers turn blighted buildings into places of affordable housing “we would all like to live in.” Examples the speaker showed ranged from a housing development for former homeless veterans called Freedom Place in Saint Louis, MO, to downtown housing in Salt Lake City called Bodhi.
The first speaker was Matt Prosser, from Economic and Planning Systems, who showed slides indicating a growing divergence between rising housing costs and stagnating incomes. He asked the City Council to have clear political will and to be transparent about their goals and areas where they have leverage to help those struggling to afford any place to live in the Reno/Sparks area.