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Our Place: A Homeless Shelter Planned For Sparks

A woman stands behind a podium to ask members of the Community Homelessness Advisory Board a question at a public meeting.
Stephanie Serrano
The Community Homelessness Advisory Board met to discuss the Washoe County Our Place project. The project will separate the women, children and families from the downtown emergency shelter.

Soon local women, children and families experiencing homelessness will have their own shelter to stay in. The Washoe County Board of Commissioners has approved nearly $15 million to fund the Our Place Homeless Housing Project in Sparks. KUNR’s Stephanie Serrano reports the shelter will have 265 beds.

Our Place will focus on the unique challenges that women, children and families face with the goal to help them transition into housing. The downtown Reno shelter will then become a men's shelter. 

The county funds are being used to renovate existing buildings in Sparks. Assistant county commissioner Kate Thomas says right now they’re working to prep the shelter to transition people from site to site.

"The idea is that we will be pulling the women and families and the children out of the downtown Record Street facility,” Thomas said. “In order for us to do that, we have to have the day care facility ready to go on the Our Place campus; we have to have the right number of beds available so we can move the women over; we have to have the intake facility ready to go."

The creation of this new shelter will help alleviate overpopulation issues in the Reno facility, eliminating the need for current overflow space.

The downtown shelter works to provide a night's rest. Our Place will provide a place to sleep but it will also identify individual root causes of homelessness by practicing intensive case management and pets will be welcome.

Kim Schweickert is a human services coordinator for the county. She says this will be key in making sure that people experiencing homelessness get adequate services to get on their feet and stay on them.

“We want to cater our approach on an individual level so instead of saying, 'Every person that comes in homeless, this is your check box. You need to check in these five boxes, and then you'll get out,' ” Schweikert said. “We really want to look at: 'Why are you homeless? Why are you experiencing homelessness, and then, what are the things you need to be successful to move out?' ”

Currently only homeless families are eligible for case management resources. With Our Place opening in April it will expand that service to all of the adults it serves.

Stephanie Serrano (she/her/ella) is an award-winning multimedia bilingual journalist based in Reno, Nevada. Her reporting is powered by character-driven stories and is rooted in sound-rich audio. Her storytelling works to share the experiences of unserved communities in regards to education, race, affordable housing and sports.
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