A vital part of the Community Assistance Center has opened its doors to treat minor ailments of homeless men and women.
Homeless people in need of minor medical care, mental health services or detoxification from drugs and alcohol are treated at the new Reno Community Triage Center at 315 Record St., and they can receive referrals for more extensive health care needs.
Police will be able to bring individuals to the triage center when they appear to be out of control because of intoxication or mental illness. The Triage Center also provides treatment for people walking in off the streets.
The Triage Center is the central location where homeless people can find immediate minor care, relieving the pressure and extra costs from the over-stressed jail system and local hospital emergency rooms.
Westcare, a non-profit group, will operate the triage center. For now, funding for the center is provided through the city of Reno, state of Nevada, Renown Medical Center and St. Mary’s Medical Center.
People with medical emergencies will still be treated at local hospital emergency rooms.
The Triage Center is just one part of the long-planned Community Assistance Center campus designed to serve the varying needs of the homeless and located on Record Street in downtown Reno.
In February 2007, representatives from Sparks, Reno and Washoe County initiated a 10-year plan to end homelessness in the region called "Housing for All: A Plan to End Homelessness."
At that time, there were 7,000 people in the area who were homeless or at risk for becoming homeless, said Bob Rusk, chairman of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness Development Committee.
Rusk said in 2007 there were 350 people living on the streets of Sparks and Reno at any given time. The causes of homelessness are wide-ranging and include mental illness, substance abuse, low wages, unemployment and domestic violence.
Inflation in cost for basic needs — from gas and groceries to medical treatment — has combined with a weakened economy in Nevada and nationwide to force many people out of their homes, the regional report on homelessness said.
In 2006, a single person had to earn about $13.69 per hour to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the Reno-Sparks area — while the median income was $10.72 per hour, according to the 2006 homeless report.
There are many "working poor" families in the community who can not sustain their basic needs because they earn $5.30 per hour (with health insurance) or $6.33 per hour (without health insurance), the report said. Single parents without a college education or technical skills also face challenges in providing for their families. The same report claims that family earnings must total $16.92 per hour to afford the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment in Reno.
To combat the problem, Phase I of the Community Assistance Center, including St. Vincent’s Dining Room, Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission and single men's shelter, opened in November 2005. The Reno Community Triage Center, the Women’s Drop In Center, and the office for the Reno Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) make up the first part of the second phase of construction. The Women’s Drop In Center and the CIT office are scheduled to open soon.
"The city of Reno is thankful for the generous support of the many private foundations, government partners, businesses, and individuals who worked for more than 25 years to bring this project to fruition," Reno spokesman Chris Good said. "The Community Assistance Center has truly been a community project."
The final phase of the complex is set to open in September. It includes the family shelter, providing a respite from the streets for as many as 22 homeless families and up to six pregnant women or women with infants. The complex will also include a resource center for agencies helping low-income and homeless people, including HAWC medical clinic and the Good Shepherd’s Clothes Closet. It will also provide mail and phone service available to homeless people.
The city of Reno is accepting bid proposals from all homeless service providers through May 9.