Reno-native Bill Wright, also known by some as William or Mountain Man, is happy with the new storage space, PO box, bike, sleeping bag, Social Security income, food stamps, and modified health insurance he's gotten in the past few months. These are all welcome additions to his rugged life. They came with help from a social worker with Northern Nevada Hopes, who also set him up in a motel room.
But now he's also back on the streets of Reno, because after a while, he says, staying in a motel room just wasn't for him. His last stint "on the outside" as he calls it, lasted 15 years. How long will it last this time?
Pros and Cons of Motel Life
He says at the motel he stayed at he could leave his dog Hurley and his possessions inside, while he ran his errands or went to get medical help for a myriad of problems, which all started with a workplace accident years ago to one of his knees. He could also leave the drama of the streets behind, he says, and play video games while being warm inside. But eventually he says the cons started outweighing the pros.
Bill says someone tried to frame him. "It was a mixed deal while I was there, but towards the end it got bad. Someone tried to set me up by throwing syringes underneath the counter, in the closet ... Some people, they’re bored, it’s a game for them. Other people, who knows?"
His Social Security income is now about $700 a month. He's found storage for $60 a month, and pays $200 a year for his new PO box. Still with regular food and health costs, he doesn't have enough money for housing without assistance. He doesn't want to stay in a shelter either, preferring to sleep outside with Hurley.
Empathy for Those with Few Options
With more motels being razed to the ground in the Biggest Little City and affordable units being harder and harder to find, Bill is pessimistic for many fellow citizens of Reno. "There’s going to be more homeless definitely," he said. "There’s very low vacancy rates. All the low income housing, you can get the voucher, but everywhere is blocked up."
He says if someone wants to help, good gloves, hats, tarps, blankets and sleeping bags are always useful for those barely getting by, enduring every moment as a fight for bare bones survival.
Whatever his own predicament, though, Bill always has a laugh to finish off sentences, and according to one social worker who recently met with him, "is the gentlest soul you will find around town."
Here is a previous story and video we did about Bill after a bridge he slept under in downtown Reno was cordoned off with new fencing:
Story and Photos by Our Town Reno, October 2017