(775) 334-2001 – “Mayor Schieve, I am calling to request that you remove item D1 from the City Council’s agenda. Homelessness is not a crime. It is a crisis that needs real, workable solutions.”
On July 24th, the city of Reno is going to discuss opposing the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Only the City Attorney and Mayor Hillary Schieve can remove this despicable item from the Reno City Council agenda and allow service providers to do our job to help people get back on their feet.
Documents created by the City of Reno Attorney’s office
by elected City of Reno, Attorney, Karl Hall
You Need to know:
Between shelters and emergency rooms and jails, it costs about $40,000 a year for a homeless person to be on the streets. (Donovan)
The 9th Circuit ruled that people were allowed to take care of themselves while the shelters are full (2019 Latest Court PDF). For example, cities cannot punish people for sleeping outside when there is no room in the shelter. As you know, our shelters are full many nights, especially when it is deadly cold. Twenty-seven deaths in 2017 and 37 in 2018 (see video). Reno has denied that these ordinances were meant to target people without homes over the years, but in this blatant attempt to legalize torture, they have listed these prohibitions as life sustaining activities that they want to punish. The Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless estimates that 1,200 people need emergency shelter and there are spaces for 1,000 (also in the video). This leaves only two-hundred people for the region to serve. The new women’s and family shelters in Sparks are funded by Washoe County and could be open in as little as three months! The housing crisis is only making the problem worse. We believe that the long-term solutions are stronger relationships, healthcare, and support for everyone who lives here.
Housing Ends Homelessness
- Taxpayers are funding $750 million of the new Raiders stadium (and another $899 million in Raiders freeway projects) but we are still trying to address why thousands of Nevadans are living outside.
- This proposal comes on the heels of Jacob’s Entertainment’s publicized proposal for the Neon Line District, which will bring some ‘affordable’ housing for low-income seniors while other projects like the Sage Street dorms are unattainable for people experiencing homelessness on social security/disability or who are without income.
- These projects do help some people but we have to be ready for everyone that cannot be served by these niche housing products.
- “What the pre-Martin photograph [an unrelated non sequitur from LA] does demonstrate is that the ordinances criminalizing sleeping in public places were never a viable solution to the homelessness problem. People with no place to live will sleep outside if they have no alternative. Taking them to jail for a few days is both unconstitutional, for the reasons discussed in the opinion, and, in all likelihood, pointless.” (2019, Martin v. City of Boise, 9)
- and once someone has an arrest record, it is harder to find housing.
- Estimated count of homeless in Reno/Sparks region is 1,000 to 1,600. However, there are only 469 available shelter beds identified in this staff report. The need is great but this figure is not correct. We believe in large policy changes to increase access to safe places to sleep – including mobile units, tents, and increased housing inventory at rates that people on fixed-incomes can afford.
By the City of Reno’s own admission, the following list of ordinances are designed specifically to penalize one segment of the population—people experiencing homelessness:
Ordinances that could be impacted by life-sustaining activities:
- 8.10.015 No climbing on structures.
- 8.10.030 Injuring trees or shrubbery.
- 8.10.055 Unauthorized removal of shopping carts.
- 8.12.012 Prohibition against sitting or lying in doorways.
- 8.12.015 Sitting or lying down on public sidewalks in the Downtown Reno Regional Center.
- 8.12.018 Urinating/defecating in public.
- 8.12.030 Camping on public property in the Truckee River Corridor.
- 8.12.042 Blocking of Sidewalks.
- 8.12.045 Benches and seats on public sidewalks.
- 8.23.070 Hours of parks and recreation facilities.
- 8.23.090 Camping in a park.
- 8.23.095 Bathing, swimming and wading in a park.
- 8.23.140 Carrying dangerous weapons.
- 10.04.030 Disposal of rubbish.
- 10.08.020 Unlawful dumping of waste matter.
- 16.01.011 Adoption of the International Fire Code (open fires)
More on the City of Reno Staff Report linked above:
- The documents outline various “outreach” activities of Reno Police Department and partner agencies. Utilizing these “outreach” activities to undermine the 9th Circuit Court’s April 1, 2019 decision highlights the intent of the City of Reno to weaponize acts of compassion – thereby violating trust of the true intentions of any “outreach” activities.
- The City of Reno offers people experiencing homelessness a one-size-fits-all solution, the Volunteers of America shelter (only 469 beds) which forecloses options for couples, people with pets, people with mental health concerns, and fails to serve young adults. The data shows that the majority of people living outside have accessed the shelter and this option did not work. When will the City be open to exploring a wider continuum of options? Other options are more productive and cost-efficient.
- The data provided highlights the dangers (pedestrian accidents, sexual assault) of experiencing homelessness. We can do more to protect the safety of all Reno citizens.
- Data highlighting bedbug infestations in police vehicles is a forced attempt to use the hazard to demonize the homelessness. It is misguided because bedbugs are even more likely to come from housed people. Bedbugs need beds, furniture, carpeting, and a stable temperature to complete their life-cycles. People experiencing homelessness are very rarely infested with bedbugs due to lack of beds, furniture, and exposure to extreme heat and cold. Why is this data being used?
- Fear provoking media (“human waste challenge,” “Seattle is Dying,” et al.) is used here to sway public emotional response, rather than focus on productive solutions. These tactics make the City, and especially the mayor (whose name is attached to the resolution for an amicus curiae) look petty and cruel.
Please message Mayor Schieve and demand that this staff report is never debated in Reno City Hall. But if it is, Join us and other organizations on July 24th to give public comment (FB RSVP). Please speak for your full 3 minutes. This vote is about the right to exist and it is worth taking up space. Every 20 people is an hour plus time switching speakers. If you do not want to use your own words, read research on the ineffective criminalization, winter death rates in our region, or legal research about the 9th circuit ruling protecting life sustaining activities when the shelters are full.
Mutual Aid Builds Trust
The public, including members of the public experiencing homelessness, deserve better. Solutions begin from a point of dignity and humanity, never from fear.
“Mayor Schieve, I am calling to request that you remove item D1 from the City Council’s agenda. Homelessness is not a crime. It is a crisis that needs real, workable solutions, not handcuffs.”