2023 will close with more services available to those experiencing homelessness than ever before under one roof
Washoe County opened the doors to the new Resource Center at the Nevada Cares Campus today. This marks a significant milestone in development of the 15-acre site to support those experiencing homelessness.
“This is a defining moment for Washoe County,” County Commission Chair Alexis Hill, also chair of the Community Homeless Advisory Board, said. “As a region, we decided to prioritize homelessness and do the hard work of building the infrastructure and services to get all our residents into homes.”
The Nevada Cares Campus began as an emergency shelter large enough to accommodate social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, constructed by City of Reno in partnership with City of Sparks and Washoe County. The shelter originally housed approximately 600 bunk-style beds. Washoe County took over management of the campus in September 2021 and embarked on a four-phase development plan, with the original structure constituting Phase I.
Phase II brought the construction of permanent bathrooms, showers, and a laundry facility The emergency shelter was reconfigured into six dorms and sleeping areas that provide more privacy and independence.
Phase III is the reconstruction of an existing building into a Resource Center and the ground-up construction of a Welcome Center. Numerous community groups and services will have an on-site presence in the Resource Center, including, WellCare Health, Mobile One Docs, Food Bank of Northern Nevada, Vitality, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, Alcoholics Anonymous, Bristlecone Recovery Center, and more. The Resource Center meets a broader need in the community through bringing services to those at risk of experiencing homelessness and adding an emergency overflow facility with capacity for 84. The Welcome Center will include intake and training areas, case management, therapy, dining hall and staff offices. This will also serve diversion efforts, which is a client-driven approach to help individuals find safe alternative housing immediately rather than staying on the street or entering the shelter.
In addition to utilizing federal ARPA funds, area partners collaborated on a public-private fundraising initiative that has raised nearly $6.5 million for the diversion-based Resource Center.
“The Nevada Cares Campus is evidence of what can be accomplished when local governments, nonprofit organizations, service providers, and the community works together toward a common goal,” Washoe County Manager Eric Brown said. “We also could not have done this without the investment from private donors who recognized the good they can accomplish by financially supporting this effort.”
Par Tolles, CEO of Tolles Development Company, is the chair of the private fundraising committee for the Nevada Cares Campus. He added: “I am so proud of the fortitude of our public-private partnership that has been forged through the development of this Cares Campus. I have had the privilege of watching foundations and individuals enthusiastically write substantial checks because they believe in the political will of the County and their non-profit partners to continue to develop what we hope will be a model for the West in how to compassionately and proactively respond to homelessness.”
In November of this year, Washoe County broke ground on a 50-unit housing structure which comprises Phase 4 of the Nevada Cares Campus strategic construction plan. Washoe County received $21.9 million from the State of Nevada in the form of a Home Means Nevada Initiative grant to build permanent supportive housing for those experiencing chronic homelessness.
Besides the physical developments of the Nevada Cares Campus, Washoe County Housing & Homeless Services has vastly expanded its support and programming to assist those experiencing homelessness. Washoe County hit a milestone with Built for Zero creating a quantitative by-name list, with over 90 percent of partner agencies contributing to the HUD-required HMIS database. This allows service providers to conduct case conferencing on a regular basis to find the right help for each individual. This is a personalized, focused approach to each person who is in the HMIS system, and is largely to credit for Washoe County seeing a 58 percent decrease in unhoused individuals over the past two years.
To learn more about the Cares Campus, the expansion plans, and how to support the programs and services it provides, visit https://www.washoecounty.gov/homeless/Cares-Campus/index.php.