Homeless Shelters Filling Up Fast - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Homeless Shelters Filling Up Fast

Posted: Updated:

Right now, there are more than 4,000 homeless people in Washoe County.

In the last few weeks, the Volunteers of America shelter on Record Street has seen a sharp increase in folks needing help due to the cold temperatures.

"I would be dead without the shelter," says Kathleen Haner. "They've helped me tremendously. They're very generous people."

Volunteers of America is a non-profit group that provides services all year, but when these cold temperatures move into our area, winter over-flow operations begin.

Workers say the winter brings a whole new set of challenges because people who would normally sleep outside, really don't have that option right now.

"We have to figure out a way to keep them safe on our coldest winter nights," says Sandy Isham, who works at the shelter.

For people like Susan Petrie, this shelter is vital.

"I don't think I'd survive more than one month out in the cold," she says. "I'd get pneumonia, die or something."

Petrie has been at the shelter for two and half months. To stay there, she and others must actively seek work and be involved in several programs.

"If you find a job, then they'll let you stay longer so you can save up money to move somewhere," says Haner.

The women say these services are a blessing.

"Otherwise, we couldn't have food, a roof over our head, a bed to sleep in, place to take a shower, do our laundry," says Petrie.

But, what about the people still sleeping on the cold sidewalks at night? A part of the winter over-flow operation is opening up day rooms. When temperatures drop below 32 degrees, they can pull up to 80 people inside.

"People can come inside if we don't have a bed available for them," says Isham. "They can come inside and sit up at a table."

Shelters like these certainly help, but winter weather still causes all kinds of problems.

"It's cold outside and people are miserable," says Kristen Shelton, a case worker at the shelter. "You see people come in here every year with frostbite."

To keep that from happening this year, the shelter will continue offering services to folks looking to get back on track.

"We want to make sure that nobody is freezing to death in Reno, due to our weather," says Isham.

In the past, Volunteers of America has had access to a warehouse where they have cots and other places for folks to sleep as well, but they're still securing funding for that.

Written by Adam Rasmussen

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Sarkes Tarzian, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.