Living in a Tent while Working in a Casino
“When [the police] come, they'll shake, rattle and pick up the whole tent and just trash it if nobody's there and if somebody’s there and they don't get a response, they will come in,” Cindy says of repeated police actions against those living in tents along the Truckee River.
“I've had an officer invade my privacy or invade my home, if you will, (who) just came right in and grabbed my leg and start throwing my covers around and getting mad because I'm upset because he's in my space. Well, this is my home. Whether or not it's a physical home or not, it's still my home, regardless (if) it's a tent. So what makes it any different from him walking through my tent door as opposed to walking through my home door. It's not okay in my home. In a house, it's not okay for anybody to enter your residence without permission so I don't see why it should be any different for a tent.”
Cindy stays in her tent with her boyfriend and their dog, so for them, it’s not an option to stay in the shelter which doesn’t allow pets. Cindy used to have a job at Cal Neva as a keno runner but lost it last year because she says it was difficult to maintain while living on the streets.
She says she was excited be working at a casino, but on her wages she still couldn’t afford a place to stay, or dress properly for the job. “They wanted me to dress up and I love to dress up, but I didn't have the attire to do that. So I was stuck. Like, now what do I do? I don't have the clothes. They wanted a nice solid color pants, like dark colored pants and then a dress shirt. I didn't have the attire at the time. I had no dress clothing. So with the lack of clothing and the lack of being able to shower on a daily basis, which is big to me, it really made it hard to keep the job.”
An Underpass in Limbo with a Controversial Cleanup
Parcels near the underpass area of Wells Ave. have been linked to a possible expansion of the Generator art maker space. The parcels, currently still owned by the city of Reno and its Redevelopment Agency were envisioned as possible spaces for art performances and markets.
According to its About section, the Redevelopment Agency serves as the economic development arm of the City of Reno, with the power to buy private property for resale; reallocate property and sales tax increment in order to finance the redevelopment program of the community; and use other incentives to foster redevelopment of blighted properties. Its piece of land reported for a possible Generator purchase is about 3.2 acres next to a smaller .6 acres, also linked to the maker space, which is owned by the city itself.
This Spring, several activists and community volunteers say they were approached by the Generator to do a cleanup of the area, which they refused saying the space was being used by people living in tents. Sought out for comment, Jerry Snyder, a board member of the Generator, wrote back on Messenger: “We respectfully decline this request for an interview.”
Members from Food Not Bombs, who host weekly potlucks at nearby Fisherman's Park, usually also bring food to people living along the river when there are leftovers. They said at any given time, there were about 50 people scattered in tents under the overpass. One day, around the time of the suggested cleanup, when they went to bring the food, they said all of the people were gone. They suspected communications between the Generator and police, which we weren’t able to confirm.
Cindy says the unpredictability of the current situation and always having to move is getting to her. “We get continually pushed and pushed and pushed by the cops. They keep harassing us, keep moving us and they keep telling us we got to relocate, we can't be here, go toward Sparks. I mean they specifically gave us a location, behind GSR on the Sparks side. So we went over there and then all the Sparks police and the reservation police got all pissed off. They're like, ‘Wait, why are you guys over here?’ [...] I mean it's a ridiculous, brutal circle, from trying to find a place where we won't get harassed. If we don't move it, then the next time they come through with the cleaning crew, they will literally throw everything away and I've had them do that to me before,” she said.