Stop the Sweeps in Washoe County
Stop the Sweeps in Washoe County
We, those living with and without shelter, in Washoe County, demand that the county treat all members of our community with dignity, respect, and access to low-income and affordable housing.
At the 2021 Point In Time Count, 780 people (a 69.9% increase over 2020) were counted as experiencing homelessness in Reno, NV. Dana Searcy—Washoe County’s Built For Zero Program manager—admitted in a February 2, 2021, This Is Reno article however that, “No one in our community has an accurate count of the unsheltered population.” We can expect the number of people experiencing housing insecurity, eviction, and homelessness to increase as we emerge from the pandemic and eviction protections are lifted. Nevada ranks worst in the nation for affordable housing, and in Washoe County there is an estimated 25,000 unit shortage for low-income renters (ThisIsReno). We understand the intersection between individual and community health and housing, however our local and state officials fail to prioritize legislation, budgets, and subsidies that would fund low-income housing preservation and creation.
Ahead of and amidst the phased opening of the Nevada Cares Campus (an over $16.75 million dollar project between Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County to which City of Reno has contributed over $8.1 million in federal CARES Act funds to acquire the land, as well as $300,000 to conduct camp cleanups) on May 17th, Reno had begun a 10-week plan to sweep encampments across 11 “zones” along the Truckee River corridor. People did and do not yet have the option to access the Nevada CARES Campus Safe Camp though, a barrier many unhoused neighbors cited, advocates raised concern over, and city officials ignored. Instead of shelter options that meet people where they’re at and without the resources promised, unhoused people are experiencing weekly traumatic displacement, the dismantling of their communities and support networks, loss of contact with under-resourced social workers, and the destruction of their property; they are met, too, with aggressive, dismissive behavior from law enforcement and the abject failure of city officials to reevaluate plans and policies based on their harmful reality.
In response to this crisis, we demand:
- A complete stop to the sweeps until the Nevada CARES Campus Safe Camp is fully open (with promised mental health care, addiction counseling, transportation, and workforce development), and a stop to sweeps again, if the Safe Camp becomes full
- Funded transportation for unsheltered individuals and their belongings to the Nevada CARES Campus for those interested in using both the Shelter and the Safe Camp
- A temporary camping location for unsheltered individuals (i.e. North Edison encampment) until the Nevada Cares Campus Safe Camp is fully open, with facilities for hygiene and medical use, including toilets, sinks, showers, and clinics
- A county-wide prioritization of sustaining and building transitional, affordable, and low-income housing
- The recognition of the Reno Houseless Union as a representative entity with a seat at the table in city and county planning decisions
- An end to the police harassment, and the reallocation of RPD and SPD cleanup funds to support social service, health, outreach, and housing initiatives existing and created for the unsheltered community, and additionally, to pay shelter staff a livable wage and provide employees with necessary training and support.