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Homelessness Has Increased Significantly In Washoe County During Pandemic

A row of over a dozen tents lined up along a fence on dirt and rocks. The tents are beneath an overpass, and two yellow school busses are driving on the overpass.
Lucia Starbuck
Our Town Reno
A homeless encampment in Reno, Nev., on March 13, 2020.

The number of community members experiencing homelessness in Washoe County has grown significantly over the last year, according to an annual report.

The national “point-in-time count” aims to get an idea of how many people are experiencing homelessness on a single night. Local jurisdictions are required to conduct the count and report their findings to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to the data, about 1,700 people are experiencing homelessness in Washoe County. That’s a nearly 40% increase from last year’s report.

In addition to the count, about 170 people were surveyed as well.

“One of the first questions that was asked was, ‘What caused your homelessness?’ 65% said lack of income,” said J.D. Klippenstein, the state director of the non-profit Faith in Action Nevada.

Klippenstein presented the count and survey findings during Washoe County’s Community Homelessness Advisory Board meeting on June 7.

“I love this next question because it is often part of the narrative around homelessness, is that it’s people coming from outside the community. That’s not true. As this survey would show, 58% have lived in Reno for over five years,” Klippenstein said.

As for the “point-in-time count,” housing advocates warn that the number of people experiencing homelessness can be a lot higher than what gets reported.

Information on housing and shelter resources in Washoe County can be found here and in Reno here. Information on rental assistance in Nevada can be found here.

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

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
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