Tent City's Days Numbered - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Tent City's Days Numbered

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John Potter

Channel 2 News

After over a year of homeless campouts, the gates to Tent City next to Reno Aces Stadium will finally close, and the last sleeping bag cleared out on Thursday.

The City of Reno's Homeless Coordinator Krista Lee says, "Last summer at its highest number we had 230 people living there, and at that point we began a rule that no new people could some into "safe ground."'

That new rule began last September. For those already there, pets were banned, and the city required each camper to register with a case manager to find another place to live. "They were required to start working towards those goals. And just over time people have left, chosen not to participate in case management, gotten into housing..."

So, instead of a sign of improvement in the economy, the disappearance of Tent City really comes down to more regulations, and active placement by the city. Evidence can be seen in the numbers: the city does a yearly count of Reno's homeless. While numbers on the street and Tent City are down from last year from 239 to 175, family members living in motels have tripled, from 261 to 747. There were over 200 people at Tent City alone at one point. Now we're down to just 4 tents that we found Monday in what's called the city's "safe ground."

The homeless we spoke with on Record Street say that once the gates close, those who depended on Tent City will be on the street. We met Greg Speed, a shelter resident across the street. He's one of those guys who never thought he'd be living there. He says he's a former police officer, living on Record Street for 3 weeks now. "I've slept on the streets before. I know what it's like. It's not a good thing."

Fellow homeless David Sobczak agrees. He says oftentimes, there's no room at the inn in the shelters. "They have a nightly day room that fills up, I mean the dorm is full that I know of, every night." At the Volunteers of America shelter, Sandy Isham confirmed that, "We run full all the time." No room right now? "We have room in the women's shelter."

Sandy says there are places for those who really do want to start over. Out of 121 tent city campers, the city placed 43 in more permanent housing, but it's not easy placing the rest. Some don't want to work with the city, and landlords don't rent to those with criminal records. As Sandy told us, "Some people are going to have a harder time than others trying to get their lives back on track to where they want to be."

For them, the only option come Thursday looks to be the street.

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