Reno tent city for homeless to remain open |

Reno tent city for homeless to remain open

RENO (AP) – Reno’s 100-tent homeless camping area won’t be shutting down.

City officials say it’s a matter of humanity and law that homeless people can’t be harassed or arrested for lacking a place to stay.

However, the encampment will be under some new guidelines, written by a committee of 13 “tent city” residents and approved by homeless center staff and the mayor. The regulations are designed to ensure the area is safe and doesn’t present a health hazard.

The tent city started about 18 months ago when homeless people who couldn’t or wouldn’t take advantage of the city’s services were given permission to stay on Reno’s homeless services campus.

Jodi Royal-Goodwin, Reno’s community reinvestment manager, said the policy was meant to be a temporary measure, but with the growth of the homeless population and the closure of Reno’s overflow homeless shelter, the encampment will continue.

“We’d like to have an exit strategy, but right now there isn’t one,” Royal-Goodwin said. “These people have to live somewhere. It’s not a place to stay indefinitely, but we have an obligation to provide a place where it’s safe.”

Royal-Goodwin said some of the regulations suggested by the tent city “betterment committee” are stricter and have more dire penalties than the city would enact on its own and some suggestions may be in conflict with state or city laws.

The rules will be discussed by city staff and committee members, and Mayor Bob Cashell also will review them before they are in place, she said.

Some homeless residents have said they welcome the regulations, while others have said they worry the rules and enforcement will be arbitrary.