Alan, 59, who is disabled says it’s been difficult for him to find enough money to make rent, now that Tesla is in town, and rents have been booming.
“Everything went up again,” he said of the last few years. “I'll blame Tesla. I'm happy we have industry coming, to give gaming competition … but, you know, I can't afford the rent. Nobody thought about me. I'm also handicapped, you know.”
He used to work in maintenance, washing dishes in casinos and as a truck driver, but along the way he says he broke his back and didn’t get it fixed right away, and now also suffers from congestive heart failure, depression, and more recently spider bites from sleeping outside as well as pneumonia.
Alan says being in his condition makes him a prey to others, while making it difficult to access services.
“They take your food stamps when you're out here … and it's hard for me to get to the only one resource they have. And that's Hopes (the community health center). You gotta be there at 8:00 in the morning or you don't get anything … I can't get there at 8:00 in the morning…”
$200 More a Month Needed, But Is there Really a Will to Help or Hurt?
Alan says if there was really a will to help, more money could be found to help those living on the streets. “The citizens needs to take responsibility for the citizenry,” he said. He says some strategies like speaking bad of motels and being glad when they are torn down, might not be such a good idea. “A lot of low income people were living there,” he said.
“Our issue here is low income housing. Say I only get x amount of dollars a month. I do not have enough Social Security to pay rent anywhere in Reno period. And my beautiful loving government says we can't help you. I only get what I got. I can't get any more. I need $300 more right now. At $200 I can get a place to live. Who's going to give me that 200 bucks?”
He says instead of that he’s facing fines, and wouldn’t let us know where he sleeps.
“I can't tell you where I sleep for safety reasons … we're really not allowed to sleep here. We're not allowed to sleep on the river anymore. That would result in a $500 fine. Yeah, you've created me. You've criminalized me. You've created the homelessness. It is a community in a city problem…”
Avoiding the Shelter and Missing His Family
Like many we interview, Alan says he avoids the shelter.
“I might have a people problem … When you get a bunch of drunks together, puking, pooping, peeing… the hygiene situation in the shelter makes it hard to live there. That would be the correct way to say that. The hygiene there is terrible and nasty and I can't do it. I do take showers. I go to Evelyn Mount community center, take a shower. Sometimes the hospital will let you have a shower.”
“They're all gone,” Alan said of losing contact with his family. “If they're here, they're not interested in me. I don't know where they are. It's been over 10 years since I last saw them. I don't really care because no one cares that I'm out here. I only have one child. (If I saw him) I would tell him to let me have a place. I'm his old man. That's what I would tell him. You need to take care of your elder.”