State of the shelter

Agencies want a building to house men, women and families

When the idea of a homeless services facility was being discussed at Reno City Council meetings about a decade ago, the need looked a bit different than it does now. In the early 1990s, the perception was that homeless men—transients, bums—were lurking around downtown, driving away tourists.

Since then, the face of homelessness has changed, says Jonnie Pullman, executive director of the Affordable Housing Resource Council, one of the agencies in the Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless. “Now there are as many families with children who are homeless as there are men.”

Several months ago, the Reno City Council voted to proceed with plans to build a shelter at the controversial Sage Street site. Members of RAAH will be presenting an overview of the shelter’s status to the council at a meeting in November. This will help fill in newly elected Councilman Dwight Dortch and Councilwoman Sharon Zadra. RAAH will also hold a homeless count on Nov. 20. The count, of course, doesn’t capture the complete number of homeless in Reno, a figure which changes on a daily basis. It does give workers a snapshot of the problem. During the last count in August, more than 700 people were in emergency transitional housing. That’s not counting the number of people living in motels that don’t have kitchens, or separate bedrooms for parents and kids.

"We have thousands of people living in motels," Pullman says.