Warehouse Injury Leads to Chronic Pain and Homelessness
Reno-born and raised, William James Wright, also known as "Mountain Man", has been homeless for about 15 years. Now 51, he has a blown-out knee, a creaky hip, a shaky ankle and "arthritis all over his body." William injured his knee working in a warehouse at his last job, when he slipped while cleaning up an oil spill.
Cold But Not as Bad as Several Years Ago
William says he can't do physical work anymore and doesn't have the education for a "sit-down job." He's looking for doctors who will take his Amerigroup health insurance card to help him. He collects cans and syringes along the Truckee river to make about 50 extra dollars a month, but has a harder and harder time walking around. He doesn't like dumpster diving because one of his friends got a big cyst on his neck after doing it repeatedly. William says this winter is cold, but not as bad as one several years ago, when it was twenty below with three feet of snow on the ground.
Staying At Wells
William says even before the tent city sprung up by the Wells Ave. bridge between 5th and 6th, he'd been staying there since he's been homeless. When it became too crowded of a spot and turned into a tent city this past fall, authorities fenced it off. "You can't really blame the city for cracking down because it was becoming a health problem but still we need someplace to go."
On being woken up repeatedly by cops in the middle of the night: "This morning at two a.m. a cop came by. Cops asked me why I was sleeping on the sidewalk. told him because it's wet and there is snow on the ground. But he said 'pack it up and get out of here.' Then he started derogatory statements towards me, telling me to get rid of my dog, go to Sparks, which is a usual thing. They have the gun, they have the power. You do what they say. We're not doing any crimes, we're trying to sleep. I think they make it so that you give up and start doing crimes."
On Living Under Bridges with His Dog: "It's the only place you got if you have animals is underneath bridges. We keep each other warm. She gets me motivated to get up and do things. It would be nice if on cold nights, there would be a way for homeless to have shelter options with their pet."
On Other Reasons He Avoids Shelters: "It's like going to jail or prison. There's violence, there's cliques, there's people stealing everything they can, a lot of bad stuff going on there. Sometimes, they say it's full. It would be nice to have lockers for people to put their stuff so they can look for work or if they're unable to work they can get their daily stuff done. The city's always needed more porta-potties, also places where homeless can bring their trash like dumpsters set around town."
On good people: "There's good people out there. They bring us tarps and panchos and gloves when it's real cold. They also bring food. I don't drink alcohol. I like it when they bring healthy food. "