Reno’s Approach to Homelessness Isn’t Helping

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By Paul White
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Reno City Hall’s newest homeless plan is a guaranteed failure before it begins. For years, comparable plans have failed in every city that’s tried them. Every city … including San Francisco and Los Angeles. Does Reno want their results? 

Reno’s homeless problem is getting worse for one reason: It’s been misdiagnosed. That’s why years of prescribed plans have failed to heal the problem. 

The homeless are not lacking food

There are dozens of food pantries in Northern Nevada. Homeless individuals receive $194 per month in food stamps or a disability check for $700 to $1,000 per month. Numerous other organizations offer regular public feedings.

The homeless are not lacking work opportunities

20 employment services and most local businesses are begging for employees. $12 to $18 per hour jobs are abundant.

The homeless are not lacking for availability of mental health services or drug and alcohol addiction treatment

Northern Nevada Mental Health Services turns down no one seeking help, nor do 40 meetings per day of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, or numerous sober living homes. 

The homeless are not lacking for affordable housing

Affordable housing is the inevitable side effect of a willingness to follow a clean and sober lifestyle, get mental health treatment when necessary, and work steadily. The wages cited above provide more than enough income to rent the hundreds of $300 to $700 per month rooms available online every day. And as you keep working, housing opportunities increase. 

What is the correct diagnosis and solution to our homeless problem?

Identify the problem correctly 

The people you see on the street are not the authentic, no-fault-of-their-own “homeless.” You almost never see that group, because they’re already being helped by the overflowing number of community organizations waiting to assist them. 

The street-dwelling, quality-of-life-destroying individuals you see in public every day choose to be there. Hiding behind the “homeless” label, they are in fact, vagrants by choice. They don’t want to – and have no need to get clean and sober or obey the laws, because the Reno Police Department’s refusal to hold these vagrants legally accountable encourages them to arrogantly maintain their parasitic lifestyles.

Start equally enforcing the law with the service-resistant vagrants-by-choice

The mayor and City Council need to require Reno police to challenge all criminal behavior and enforce the municipal code with vagrants the same way they do with normal residents. 

Stop accepting federal HUD funding for Reno’s homeless shelter

Accepting HUD funding for a shelter prevents a city from implementing the only practices that reduce homelessness. Reno’s HUD-funded shelter is required to allow its clients to continue drug and alcohol use. It can’t require them to get a job, get mental health counseling, or even clean up after themselves. Stopping the HUD funding would allow Reno to enforce these common sense requirements. It would reduce homeless shelter costs and clientele so greatly, that the city could fund the shelter through private donations.

The approach being used by the mayor and City Council toward its homeless-by-choice vagrants is not helping the city or the individuals they’re reaching out to. Conversations about “new” homeless plans, community partnerships, shelter relocation, “city ambassadors”, etc., — without first accepting the correct diagnosis of the homeless problem — are just variations of the same old failed approach that will turn Reno into the next San Francisco.


 

Paul D. White is the Director of Stronghold Institute and former head of QOL-Ventura.   Located in Ventura from 2012 – 2017, Stronghold currently operates out of Reno, Nevada.  Mr. White welcomes comments at:   white.pauld@gmail.com


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