Eliminating Blight in Reno, One House at a Time - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Eliminating Blight in Reno, One House at a Time

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Weeds and an untrimmed tree marred the corner of 10th and Montello Streets for years. As Reno Councilman Oscar Delgado told us, "As you walked through the neighborhood, the first perception that you got was, there's something wrong here." The home’s owner, Elizabeth Shepard, agreed: "My yard most of all needed a lot of attention."

Elizabeth has lived in her house for 60 years. When she first moved in, she says “It was slightly new. But I wore it out!" Over those 60 years, her home sent five children out into the world. But the house that weathered many storms lost its caretaker after her husband died. With the kids gone, and Elizabeth now 81, it fell into disrepair. As she told us, "You can't do everything, but you do the best you can."

The toll it took gave it a new name: blight. The city has a name for the cure: the Neighborhood Renewal Program. Delgado says its purpose is “to really work on the exterior of those homes. But also, part of that is to make sure they're living in safe conditions."

$275,000 was set aside for the program, and Elizabeth's home is its first success story. They're still working on it inside with a new refrigerator, furnace, stove and windows on the way. Outside? What a job. Mark Van Tassel with Truckee Meadows Habitat for Humanity told me, "We did a new driveway, painted the whole house, painted the trim, new fencing and a new planter for her."

The city hopes this sort of thing catches on…that neighbors of these rehabbed homes will do that same to theirs whether they get help from the city or not. Elizabeth's son Edward says it’s working: "You see people cleaning up their yards, I've seen a couple of little Bobcats where people are redoing their yards, and it’s just growing."

If they do get help, the city has restrictions. The program is for people on a fixed income who don’t have sufficient resources to improve their homes, so only income-eligible Reno residents qualify. Van Tassel says, "We're looking for more elderly, veterans, special needs type people that cannot do their yards and stuff."

Elizabeth fit the bill. The city paid it, and Truckee Meadows Habitat for Humanity did the work. She says Mark and his crew is welcome in her home, anytime. As she told me, "They didn't come as, 'oh this is my job.' They came because 'this is my friend, this is somebody I want to help. And they've helped me every step of the way."

The city is looking for more volunteers and donations to stretch out that grant and fix more homes. If you’d like to help, or apply for help from the neighborhood renewal program, click below:

http://www.reno.gov/Home/Components/News/News/16429/576

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