Council scraps land purchase for homeless project

Photo Courtesy of Our Town Reno Angela, a 19-year-old homeless woman, rests on a sidewalk in downtown Reno with her service dog. The city council decided not to purchase a piece of land to start building housing for the chronically homeless.

The Reno City Council decided against purchasing a piece of land on Clear Acre Lane to build housing for the chronically homeless population even though Aric Jensen, the city Community Development director, said the location met all his team’s requirements for the housing project.

The council instead said they wanted the city staff to focus on using a parcel of land that the city already owns. City staff said they have already looked at the properties the city owns and determined that none of them are ideal for the proposed project.

“We have been looking for properties that we believe could meet the council’s direction to look for a facility for the chronically homeless,” Jensen said.

He also said the Clear Acre Lane property met the city staff’s criteria that included price, location, zoning, access to transit and the accessibility to the people who will be working at the housing location.

The Clear Acre Lane purchase would have cost $350,000.

The land purchase is part of a project the City of Reno is pursuing called the Housing First approach, which offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Despite the fact that Jensen said that the street.

Mayor Hillary Schieve echoed Brekhus’ sentiment, saying she wasn’t comfortable buying more land when the city already owns land. She also said she hopes to see the Reno Housing Authority head the project.

During the public comment section of Wednesday’s meeting, Lynette Eddy, the founder of The Eddy House, a project that provides residential housing to runaway, foster and at-risk youth ages 12-24 spoke up in favor of purchasing the land.

“These people are mentally ill,” Eddy said. “They need help and I believe that it is the right thing to do. It works, it makes sense and we just have to educate people of the social and the economical benefits of this because it works. I commend you for stepping up, this is brave of you. I believe the way we treat our most vulnerable is a reflection of who we are as a community.”

Eddy praised the Housing First approach saying she has seen it work in other cities and states.

Jose Olivares-Sefchick, a reporter for Our Town Reno, a street reporting project dedicated to reporting issues that Reno’s homeless community faces told the Nevada Sagebrush on the Sagebrush Politics Podcast that he fears the council will not try to pursue the housing first project because they don’t want to purchase new land.

“They were going to build 30 units to house chronically homeless people and it has kind of taken on the model that other cities and states across the country have taken, which is the housing first model which has been proven to be successful,” Olivares said.

Lavon Reid also testified at the council meeting, however, she was opposed to purchasing the land. She said the area is not accessible enough to the homeless population. She recommended allowing and funding the Reno Gospel Mission to build three new buildings to add to their 6th street location. The Reno Gospel Mission provides housing, meals and clothing to Reno’s homeless population.

The council did not respond to Reid’s concerns or requests for funding.

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