June 1 RISE Presentation

Update June 22

Watch on Facebook: HERE

30 minute recording about RISE and our Safe Camp Proposal

A conversation for our community

Our SafeCamp proposal has been on the agenda to present to both city councils and county commissioners since February of this year but keeps getting rescheduled or postponed due to these challenging times. In light of the recent, consecutive sweeps of the various camps in our community, our unsheltered neighbors need a safety plan now!

Winter will be upon us before we know it and we will again be forced to scramble last minute to save lives from the harsh weather of our region. We feel it is important to share our vision of a SafeCamp with as many members of our community as possible, so we can proactively prevent the unnecessary death and suffering of our most vulnerable citizens.

Please take 30 minutes to watch the presentation, learn about RISE, and ask officials to enact proactive solutions.

UPDATE June 1:

The Community Homelessness Advisory Board meeting does not have a quorum so our 9 am presentation was canceled right before it began at 8:38 am. Please stay tuned. We will need your support on this topic.

Please watch for updates because these issues of shelter are critical and important in our community. Over 1,000 people signed a petition and submitted public comments. We gathered several pages of signatures from people currently without shelter. Those citizens had the call-in information and were planning to listen.

These last-minute changes break public trust and are responsible for the loss of faith in our elected officials and governmental institutions. A sweep is scheduled to move over 230 people over the next two days. This is not the time for sweeps but a time for listening to everyone in our community who has been speaking out. We need these public meetings so people are respectfully heard.


RISE’s Board & Staff

On June first, RISE will be presenting an update to the Community Homelessness Advisory Board (CHAB) about the Our Place project for women and families and the technical logistics of running a safe camp for those who are unable to use local shelters. Please voice your support for this money and life-saving approach to your local officials. This presentation is being given to elected representatives from Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County.

Public comment can be submitted by leaving a voice message at: (775) 954-4664 or on the Zoom. Voice messages received will either be
broadcast into the Commission Chamber during the meeting or transcribed for entry into the record. The County will make
reasonable efforts to include all comments received for public comment by email and voicemail into the record. Please try to
provide comments by 4:00 p.m. on Friday May 29, 2020.

Reno Restaurants Helping with COVID-19

Donate Here:

We are starting a new campaign to help small business leaders and help people who don’t have enough access to food. Over a dozen groups prepare and serve free hot meals every day. This important work has continued with safety precautions and grab-n-go meals, but many of our volunteers are older and at higher risk for COVID-19.

Additionally, groups are having more difficulty accessing ingredients, so there are some nights when we need a little extra help to bring healthy food and maintain important communication with everyone struggling in this crisis.

Donations will help local restaurants stay afloat through this storm and provide meals to those who need it most.

Please support the daily volunteer meal providers and local restaurants through this campaign.

Many of our volunteers are in groups vulnerable to COVID-19 and we want to maintain their work until it is safe for them to return to their service while also helping small businesses in our community.

Meal Providers

For over 12 years, volunteers have come together to serve daily meals. The groups who currently provide meals are:

We have set up a GoFundMe HERE


Please stay home if you are sick and message us if you were signed up to serve a meal, work a shift, or other activity. Please refer to our Health Department and local hospital releases to find the best practices to prevent the spread of COVID.

RISE is still operating with modifications. We will update this page as things change from day to day.

Call 775-328-2427 to request testing from the health district


  • Don’t make people wait in long lines
  • Don’t put anyone in crowded places
  • Access to water
    • Restrooms
    • Sinks and hand washing stations
    • Turn on local water fountains
    • Showers for people in every emergency shelter
  • Open hotel rooms so all people have access to sanitation and self-quarantine
  • National mortgage and rent relief
  • Direct aid to as many people as possible
  • Employment support for employees and owners
  • Truthful communication
  • Communication between government entities
  • Donate to Restaurants who are helping with daily meals: GoFundMe

Daily Meal Service

  • A dozen independent groups serve every day
  • Please stay home and heal if you are sick.
    • There will still be need when you get better
    • Pledge to take turns resting
  • Make grab and go meals
    • Sandwiches
    • Burritos
    • Bags or Boxes
  • We are allowing people to use the Washoe County funded restrooms and hand washing station during meal service
  • Use sidewalk chalk marks to help space people in lines


  • Prepared Food
  • Groceries that can help the meal providers cook
  • Survival Gear
  • Water
  • Sanitizers
  • Through our Amazon wish list
  • Emergency funds on Paypal

Volunteering from home

  • Make to-go dinner bags and coordinate pickup with our team
  • Video Chat with Zoom
  • Google Drive Planning
    • Write and design proposals
    • Write and design upcoming programs
  • Local Resources
    • Message us if you want to help edit these: Lists and Spreadsheet
    • Use the information to help people find resources
  • Help share information through Facebook Groups
  • Advocate for local and national relief programs

The worst part of this work has always been not being believed or taken seriously when conveying the experiences of our neighbors outside. I’m so tired of trying to convince people that not only is it as bad as I am explaining, it’s worse. -RISE Case Manager, March 23, 2020

Protective Equipment

Truckee River Safety

Call to action: Before December 4th, please email or call city council members and tell them why you oppose spending a quarter million dollars to hire a contractor to sweep the river while people have nowhere to go. This is a city manager staff report and no elected officials have announced their stance. Let’s tell them to spend these unrestricted funds to solve homelessness along the river with work programs, hired peer support, increasing current services, providing a legal place to be, and other proven solutions.

Email Reno officials who will vote on this item:


Solution Focused

The Reno City Council Agenda item D.7.2 calls for the city to spend up to $245,805 to hire a private contractor to push people from the river without doing the work to solve underlying problems or increase services. This private contractor is expected to “remove waste and debris created primarily by illegal camping along the river and other parks impacted by homelessness.” They claim they remove “60-80 cubic yards of waste, including lumber, discarded appliances, mattresses, thousands of used needles, and piles of human waste,” each week (p.602). What is unreasonable about this verbiage is that they blame our neighbors without homes for all illegal dumping.


The construction contractors are to “Remov[e] all trash, debris, waste, and personal property from sites identified by the City.” These personal belongings are to be taken to the Record Street shelter (CAC) for storage, leaving people stranded without their survival equipment, and requiring an untrained crew to work with our friends without homes. In the contract, City of Reno retains the right to direct and fire employees at their discretion through a new full time employee (not included in the first $245k) but the contractor is to assume all the liability. Reno services have been involved in legal action after losing people’s most valuable possessions including dentures; yet the government staff report says “Legal Implications: None at this time” (p.604).


This is not the right way to reach the community’s goals for the river. We believe it is another attempt to get around the 9th circuit court of appeals ruling that defines these actions as illegal torture.


The City has previously claimed that they do not have the funds to provide additional emergency beds, keep the resource center open, provide meal service for those staying in the overflow at a time where they can access it, allow for more access to bathrooms, or to pay individuals to do the night shift in the overflow tent. The tent now has night shift staff in partnership with both Reno & Sparks and trial bathrooms are underway with Truckee Meadows Water Authority. These solution focused partnerships are the way forward.


They have insisted that volunteers operate critical services daily. For this exorbitant fee, we could be paying those along the river to help clean up their space, we could make legal and safe places for people to recover, we could house many of those without homes for the winter season. Please scroll below for one example of  a wraparound housing & work program from Lisa Lee.


So what can we do to keep our neighbors without homes safe this winter?

  • Send your public comment to City of Reno before the Dec 4th council meeting – HERE
  • Attend Reno City Council on Wednesday, December 4th at 10 a.m. and make public comment about this agenda item.
  • Let Reno City Council know how ineffective and inhumane it would be to spend this money on removing people instead of using the money to make sure people stay alive this winter and have a chance to improve their circumstances.
  • Help research emergency camp sites and service focused neighborhoods in other communities so we can design an effective local option – Research Folder

If you would like to read more, you can find the agenda packet on the City of Reno Website (Warning: The document takes a while to load). See pages 602 to 616.


Snippets from D.7.2 in the agenda packet:

  • “The purpose of the crew was to remove waste and debris created primarily by illegal camping along the river and other parks impacted by homelessness. Each week they remove 60-80 cubic yards of waste, including lumber, discarded appliances, mattresses, thousands of used needles, and piles of human waste.”
  • “the city has not been able to field a full crew (leader and three temporary employees) for more than a few weeks at a time. This is because of the nature of the work and the pay rate available.”
  • “the Contract with Coit Services of Reno, LLC. for cleaning and restoration services related to the Clean and Safe Team, in an amount not to exceed $245,805”
  • “Currently C-Tax revenues are tracking above budget in a sufficient amount to cover this additional expenditure. “
  • “Legal Implications: None at this time.”
  • “Transporting identified personal property to the CAC for storage;”
  • “WHEREAS, the City of Reno is creating a community that people are proud to call home and among the Reno Council 2019 Priorities are to “Make progress on homelessness” and
  • “Demonstrate commitment to the river”;”
  • “CONTRACTOR and its agents shall have no authority express or implied, to act as an agent on behalf of the CITY”

Adding a full time city position to manage the contracted staff

  • “The CITY’s Project Manager shall coordinate and direct the services performed”
  • “the CITY can require the CONTRACTOR to remove one or more of its employees either temporarily or permanently from one of more task orders”

Where is the public information to prove this claim?

  • “CONTRACTOR retained pursuant to this CONTRACT has represented to the CITY that they are skilled in the profession to a degree necessary to perform the services and duties contained in this Contract”

The RISE Board

One example solution we would support:

Dec 2nd Public Comment from Community Leader, Lisa Lee

Good morning to you all. For the record, my name is Lisa Lee and I am the program director for Foundation for Recovery and a board member of Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality. I am here today on account of the City of Reno’s proposal in agenda item D7. The City of Reno is full of interesting surprises and I sure was flummoxed to read through a proposal in which COIT Cleaning and Restoration would be the contracted party for a Clean and Safe team for an “amount not to exceed $245,805.” The proposal cites removal of various debris and tents along the river. Upon reading this, I thought about what ended homelessness for myself and countless others I and so many others in the community have helped end homelessness for. The answer? Housing. I think about people like Mary, who I hired at our agency last week and I share her story with permission. When I met Mary, she lived in the bushes at Paradise Park, skittish and leary. I kept showing up anyway and we built a relationship. When she came to my office, we ended her homelessness by getting her into transitional housing and began working on permanent housing. Mary’s recovery began there. She is now a trained Peer Recovery Support Specialist working on state certification. She showed up and did the work on healing years of domestic abuse but she couldn’t have done it without a safe and secure housing situation. There are hundreds like Mary who have been able to get off the streets. Last night, I put together a budget with a full-time peer who could help to link people to housing. The budget includes benefits, mileage, and housing scholarships for fifteen households for a year of rent. The total? $244,191.20. Wouldn’t money allocated to end homelessness for our neighbors on the river who want to come inside be better spent? What about a safe campground for people in precontemplation about ending their homelessness? December 21 is National Homeless’ Persons’ Memorial Day where we mourn the loss of people who died without housing. Studies show that people without housing die, on average, 20 years sooner than their housed counterparts. Why would the City invest in a program that takes life-sustaining gear from people living outside rather than to invest in real solutions. People don’t disappear when their gear is taken, they die.

Proposed Budget

January 1, 2020-December 31, 2020

FTE Peer Recovery Support Specialist x $2,917 x 12 months x 100%
Salaries Subtotal $ 35,000.00

Fringe benefits @ 16%
Fringe Subtotal $ 5,600.00

Mileage: 200 miles per month x 12 months @ $.58 per mile
Travel Subtotal $ 1,392.00

Housing scholarships: 15 households x $1000 month x 12 months
Supplies Subtotal $ 180,000.00

10% Indirect for administrative support of grant operations
Indirect Subtotal $ 22,199.20

Total Cost $ 244,191.20

Winter Survival 2019-2020

Compassion for our Neighbors Project


  • Please donate supplies through our Amazon List or look through the other ways to help below.

Job loss, disability, and hard times can happen to anyone. Hundreds of our community members will be without warm shelter this winter. RISE believes that everyone has the ability to recover and overcome difficult times. Please join our initiative to promote hope by donating/collecting emergency winter supplies for our neighbors.

Did you know that there is a 90-day shelter limit per 12-month period here in Reno? The unavailability of other housing alternatives means our neighbors will be camping out this Winter.

Volunteer at the Emergency Winter Tent

  • Open NOV 18 to MAR 31
  • Nightly evening shift: 8:00 – 10:30PM
  • Morning checkout shift: 5:00 – 7:00 AM
  • Bunks for 50 people in a heated tent
  • Dinner meal provided by the VOA
  • To volunteer click here to contact us and learn more

Sign the Safe Camp Petition

  • A place that unsheltered residents within our community can live without fear of criminalization, harassment, or eviction
  • Allows local non-profits and caseworkers easy access to people in need.

Read more & sign with your support of a Safe Camp here

Supplies we are looking for:

  • Tents all sizes
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Tarps
  • Pillows
  • Winter Wear
  • Donate through our Amazon List

Drop Off Locations

Volunteer Supported Winter Tent Open November – March

Emergency Housing Funds:

  • Read more about our Living Room program.
  • Afternoon RISE Meal: Donate at least $200 or become a recurring donor to meet some of our caseworkers and people who have benefited from housing vouchers

There will not be enough shelter space in operation for our region so we will need to get creative to keep people safe Winter 2019-2020. Funds are used to provide immediate housing for people who have fallen through the cracks and volunteers can help keep those emergencies from repeating.

The number of deaths from exposure has increased; 37 people died last year while living outside. We use 100% of these funds to intervene in emergency situations. You are invited to meet people who have benefited from the program and some of our caseworkers at a November and Spring home cooked meal. Please donate at least $200 or become a recurring donor of any amount to attend this brunch or Afternoon RISE Meal. The exact date depends on the donor’s schedules.

Past Event: the Mod Pizza Fundraiser

Thank you to all who came and made this a success!

  • Bring a flyer & RISE receives some of the proceeds
  • Facebook Event: HERE
  • Flyer: HERE

Life Sustaining Activities

(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.”

Reno municipal code 8.12.012 makes it illegal to sit.

Donated crutches and picture of no sitting or lying sign

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

  • City of Reno Documents: HERE
  • Source of the documents on the City of Reno Website Item D1: HERE

You Need to know:

RSVP:  July 24th 10 a.m. Reno City Hall to give public comment (FB RSVP)

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:

People who need equipment to walk should not be punished for sitting.

Donated Crutches

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.

(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, not handcuffs.”