Heat is a Challenge for Reno's Homeless - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Heat is a Challenge for Reno's Homeless

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Heat is a real challenge for those who have trouble escaping it, like Terri. We found her dodging the sun and hiding from the heat, in the cool computer room in the lobby of the Volunteers of America resource room. She just lost her home and isn't used to being homeless. She told us she had a tough time yesterday: "I felt like I was going to slide down the, from the heat. You know, I'm 55. I guess it’s starting to affect me now."

Next door, Mary is 67. She retired with no savings, and social security isn't enough. She told us, "When I rent a place it takes everything i make to pay rent." Did she ever think she’s be homeless, that she’d be living at the women’s shelter? "Not really, but I'm grateful that it's here."

Especially in the dog days of summer. The lobby where we met Terri is open 9 to 5. Next door is the women’s shelter, where women can come in and stay cool there all night. It has a kitchen, books, games, cable TV...and a thermostat set to 72. The men's lobby is open too...cool spaces that have never been more important, because as Sandy Isham of Volunteers of America told us, all the shelter beds are taken. She told us, "Even though we do run out of beds, this is why we open our dayrooms at night...whether it’s in the winter to get out of the cold or the summer to get out of the heat, and somehow or other we just make it work. They can come in here, sit at a table and be in a cool, safe environment."

Outside, it's not so easy. There are about 30 homeless living now in what's informally called “tent city”. They make a lot of use of the lone water fountain there on days like today, and take part in a practice that they call, 'chasing the shade.' That’s what we saw Peter, an unemployed Reno chef doing. He told us, “When the shade moves, you see the overhead here. You just move your bedroll and chase the shade."

Peter has been homeless for 6 years now. He and his friends dread summer. As he put it, "The heat is worse than the cold, because in the cold you can actually cover up and get warm. You can take everything off in the heat and still be hot."

Many didn't know about the open lobbies, and were happy to hear about the comfort available...right next door.

The Volunteers of America say they go through a lot of sunscreen, chap sticks and bottled water for the homeless, and are always in need of monetary donations. You can drop off the items at their resource center on Record Street, or click the link below:


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