Reno Ward 1 Candidates Weigh In On Homelessness

Jun 13, 2016

The three candidates for Reno City Council's Ward 1 seat all agree that downtown homelessness is a big problem that needs concrete solutions. Our News Director Michelle Billman reached out to hear their ideas ahead of Tuesday's primary election.

This downtown plaza is a common hangout spot for homeless people in Reno.
Credit Alexa Ard

Candidate and lawyer Victor Salcido says the problem stems from both the local housing shortage and inadequate mental health services, which eventually need to be addressed. But in the short-term...

"I think an enormous part of the problem came from the closure--through no fault of their own or the city's fault--of the overflow shelter. That's an immediate need," he says. "We need to find something to accommodate and put a roof over people's heads; however, that's almost a Bandaid to the problem."

Over the long-term, incumbent Jenny Brekhus sees improvements that the city can make regarding how it spends federal funding designated for subsidized housing:

"We've had a practice of using those dollars for subsidizing not the terribly, terribly poor and hard to house--those transitioning from homelessness--so we need to follow what the federal guidance is."

Another candidate for this race was actually homeless himself at one point. His name is Rich Van Gogh and he now owns an art gallery.

"I think tiny homes is the way to go," Van Gogh explains. "It's the new, hot buzz word when it comes to architecture. Many people that aren't even homeless go with tiny homes, so I think we could build a lot of tiny homes, rent them out, and allow people to actually go from homeless to homeowner."

After Tuesday's primary, only the top two candidates will advance to the general election.