Reno's Homeless Face a Frigid Night - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Reno's Homeless Face a Frigid Night

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The number of homeless needing beds goes up as temperatures continue to fall this week. For the folks who are camped out in what used to be called Tent City just off 4th Street, there's nothing worse than tonight's weather forecast. What could be the coldest night in 4 years has Reno's homeless thinking about the simple things that we all take for granted, like a warm bed at night.

Elizabeth is 49, born in Reno, and homeless. She told us, "I've slept outdoors many nights since May. I've been out here since May." How did this beautiful woman find herself outside in the cold? As she told us, "My husband was drinking. He ended up in the Salvation Army program after jail, and I couldn't pay rent because he wouldn't let me work, and then I had no money."

She says she's tried to find work, but no luck. Tonight, when the temperature turns frigid, she'll have a warm place to sleep. She says getting it wasn't easy, and knows others aren't as lucky: "I've seen older women in their 70's get bumped out, sitting at the bus station out there all night long walking around. I worry about them."

Charles Logan does not have a bed for tonight. A 50-year-old self-professed alcoholic, he prefers sleeping by the river…even on a night like this. As he told us, "I like being outside. I'm free, that's all I care about." What about the single-digit lows at night? "If you're a full-grown man you should know how to handle yourself." How does he keep from freezing? He has a few blankets, layers of clothes and a sleeping bag. He told me he's used to it. But he knows others, not as healthy as he is, who will have a very tough night.

Across the parking lot at Volunteers of America, Sandy Isham works to keep the homeless warm. As part of their "cold snap protocol", she has staff members trained to detect signs of hypothermia, who reach out to those on the streets. They also try to get the homeless connected with more long-term services. As for beds, she took us to the second floor, telling us, "Here at the women's shelter we have 50 beds that can accommodate single women." Combining their resources for men and the overflow shelter, she says they can provide over 300 warm beds.

Still, it's not enough. All 50 beds at the women's shelter are booked for tonight. There's an overflow center with more but that will fill up too. In that case, there's the Volunteers of America lobby…no beds, but its open 24 hours a day. Isham says, "They can come in and sit at a table, have a cup of coffee and just be out of the elements for the evening."

On nights like this, it may be the only place left.

-written by John Potter

The Volunteers of America is asking for some help this time of year. Right now they need donations of blankets, socks and toiletries. And for homeless children…toys. Here's a link where you can help:

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