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City Of Reno Increases Homeless Camp Cleanups During Pandemic

The City of Reno has ramped up cleanups of homeless camps over the last several weeks. KUNR's Lucia Starbuck covered a cleanup Wednesday morning in partnership with This Is Reno.

The city’s Clean and Safe Team entered a new contract with the cleaning service Qual-Econ U.S.A., Inc. for $510,000 for one year.

Their role includes the removal of trash, debris, waste and personal property from sites designated by the city. Their first major operation was a clearing of trash along the Truckee River near Kietzke and Kuenzli.

One 28-year-old woman, who uses the alias, “Suspect,” has been experiencing homelessness for three weeks and has been staying at this spot for two.

“It’s kind of sad because there’s a lot of really good people here and they’re all losing a place to go,” Suspect said.

The City of Reno cited concerns about environmental contamination and health hazards from encampments along the Truckee River, prompting the increase in cleanups. Jon Humbert with the city said people are notified and offered services when they must leave an area.

“It is difficult to ask people to uproot their lives on relatively short notice within a week, or so, but we have options and opportunities for people who want to join programs and different outcomes than living here. There are options, and we just want people to take it up, and that doesn't often happen,” Humbert said.

Humbert added that there are multiple beds available every night; however, the shelter space in Washoe County is limited and there are not enough beds for every unsheltered person in the county.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

This story was produced in partnership with This Is Reno.

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