City of Reno approves new homeless programs

RENO, Nev. (KRNV & - As part of an effort to clean up the Truckee River in downtown Reno and create a vibrant downtown, city council has unanimously approved several partnership contracts with local organizations to alleviate homelessness.

On Wednesday, City Council approved up to $260 thousand dollars from its budget surplus to fund new housing and workforce development programs. It's the first steps in looking at long-term solutions to give a hand-up to the homeless.

Volunteers of America Northern Nevada will receive funding to operate an overflow shelter for the next few months.

The contract allocates no more than $50,000 from CAC funds to operate the overflow shelter Sutro Street and East 9th Street from August 27- October 27, 2015.

Those who use the overflow shelter are able to sleep at the shelter before given breakfast and transported to a man shelter, according to staff.

Mayor Hillary Schieve emphasized the need to respect the homeless population and their pets and property as the City works to clean up the Truckee River.

It's a short-term solution. However, the City also approved two other contracts that will develop two new programs aimed at long-term solutions.

Volunteers of America will receive no more than $110,000 for its new RenoWorks Program.

"When you stabilize people, they're no longer a drain on emergency services and they can stand on their own two feet and become independent," says Sandy Isham, with the Volunteers of America Northern Nevada organization.

The workforce development program will give 20 men and women living in shelters jobs within the shelter. In addition, they will participate in 9 weeks of workforce training and mentorship.

As a person who's dealt with homelessness and addiction, Regional Director, Pat Cashell, knows how priceless the program will be.

"It's more than the money, it's more about regaining your self-esteem, your self-worth, pride," he says.

Lastly, the Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada will receive no more than $100,000 dollars to administer its new "Motels to Homes" program. It targets working families with income, but live in downtown motels. They're on the edge of homelessness.

"We're trying to catch them to prevent that," says Peter Vogel, CEO of CCNN. "These are families that want to be sustainable that have an interest in doing better."

He says programs like the ones approved today will help the community at large:

"Honestly, a little bit of dollars on the front end of this situation, especially with families that really want to improve their situation, is way more cost effective than letting them fall into homelessness and then all of the challenges that we have to deal with then."

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