More Affordable and Relaxing
On a hot summer morning, Joyce is having coffee in her spacious room while she snuggles with Aurora, her rescue and service dog. Her roommate, a veteran, is preparing food in a shared, spotless kitchen of their subsidized apartment within the Hawk View Apartments complex, next to a couple of bus lines, by Hug High.
It’s a far cry from other situations she’s lived in, most recently the cramped, noisy, often drama-filled motels she called home for a while. There is a continuation though, such as the Native American dreamcatcher over her bed, which she found in a dumpster and which then adorned the door to her room at the El Tavern motel on W. 4th street.
Joyce has been here since May, after finding out housing lists were reopening and immediately applying in February. “It didn't take that long,” she said. “But my roommate's a veteran so it kind of bumped us up on the list and they offered us this one.”
They are paying less than $400 for the two bedroom apartment, with an extra $100 or so per month for electricity and cable bills, much less than the rising rent at the motel, which she said was going up to $1,250 for a much smaller space. Because she now pays utilities, her food stamps have gone up.
Challenges of Adapting to a New Neighborhood and a New Place
”We argued on Facebook with each other,” Joyce says of getting to know Jardon personally, while presenting her views on helping the homeless and easing the affordable housing crisis in Reno. “We had lunch, we talked. We were both really honest with each other and we've just stayed friends.”
Since Joyce doesn’t have a car, she does miss the ease of going to the motel’s convenience store, or living on the first floor, as she used to, to take her dog for walks. Her roommate was robbed while walking Aurora late at night on nearby Tripp Drive, which they now both avoid at night.
She has new neighbor friends, including an artist, and apartment community meetings she attends. She says maintenance is a bit backed up, as she’s still trying to get her shower fixed, but that all in all, it’s been a great move for her. “I like it now. I’m happy and calmer,” she said.
The Importance of Networking and Local Solutions
”Network,” Joyce says when asked if she has tips for others trying to rebound from homelessness and addiction as she has. Getting free bus passes also helped.
“Make sure you access what resources you can, if you can,” she said. “It’s difficult. It's really hard to get places. I learned that lesson. If you don't have transportation, you're not going anywhere. If you don't have resources or know where to network, you're not going anywhere. Figuring out what your options are. If you can, don't be afraid to reach out to some groups and at least get an idea. If you're going to apply for housing, apply, you know?”
She said when Lisa Lee, a recovery specialist in Reno, told her the housing lists were reopening, she not only applied for herself and her roommate, but for four other neighbors at her motel as well.
Joyce believes in local and state solutions for affordability over federal ones, but believes Reno still has the wrong mindset.
“You know, they want this to be a university town. They want to have districts, which I hate, you know. It makes it sound exclusive. Hey, if you're not this, you can't be here.”
Helping the Homeless One by One
Joyce believes there should be a wider array of services for those living on the streets, and a wider range of options to help them out. She often points to Eugene, Oregon, as a city which has tried harder to help.
“Some people don't want to be inside or some people don't know how to interact with others enough to be inside,” she said. “That's why there should be more choices and more diversity for people who do want to come in… It's not just homeless people. There's addiction, there's mental health, there's veterans, there's PTSD, there's whatever. And they're all throwing it into one basket. Like a designate X. Nope. Sorry, I never fit into a basket.”
She says every little bit makes a difference, from the help she’s received from others, to herself helping out.
“The other day I was walking my dog, and there was a guy pushing a baby carriage with stuff in it, and when I came back, he happened to be in the dumpster and he said, ‘oh, thanks for following me’. I said, ‘I wasn't following you.’”
She went back to meet him to give him a jug of cold water and a bag of toiletries. “You know, it wasn't a big deal. Been there, done that, made eye contact, talked to him. He said the way he lives is what he's chosen. I said, well, everybody's got to decide when it's time to change. If you do fine, but you're going to have to do it on your time and nobody's going to be able to make you.”