The Homeless Dead Often Get Ignored
“His name was Donny,” Philip tells us. “He was stabbed to death for some shit. It went too far and he got murdered… He was brutally stabbed to death and I've yet to hear anything else about the investigation. But yeah, there's been a lot of shit going on,” he says of the insecurity of living in a tent, which also comes with repeated early morning police sweeps.
Criminalizing the homeless, he says, is wrongheaded.
“Figuring out what the problem is and then dealing with the problem instead of sitting here and taking it out on the homeless because these guys want to be assholes to us and it's not okay. Making homeless criminals, that's never going to work, right? Nope. It's just gonna piss them off more, make it worse and make a lot more problems for the future,” he said.
Loyalty to Those Living on the Streets
Philip says more and more people who are cited for camping illegally are now sent to the downtown library’s community court, which he says is an improvement.
“Usually they tell people to go to services when they go to the library court and when you go, they have all types of services. They have people from Hopes, they have people from social services …”
Philip says he’s been living on the streets of Reno since 2006. He’s thought of going back to Las Vegas, but he says his loyalty and protecting others in his predicament keeps him here.
“I know too many people out here. I have too many people out here I consider family,” he said.
Surviving by the River
Philip sometimes helps people move or fixes cars to earn some money, as he doesn’t get any fixed income, or even food stamps. He says he finds peace sitting by the Truckee river, and also answers, when he feels lost.
He believes camping along the river should be legal, and that there should be public showers and more trash cans. He says people who look down on those like him should have more compassion.
“There's a good community amongst us. There's spots all along this river, where everything goes on. Just like everyday life goes on inside of houses. The only thing is we do it in a tent, but it’s still all the same. It's just we're in a tent. The winters are tough, but summers are tough too.”
For those who are just starting out on the river, finding a hidden shady spot and drinking clean water is the key, he says.
“Stay hydrated, that's all I can say. Stay hydrated. If not, you're going to die of a heat stroke.”