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Understanding Reno's New Motel Inspection Program

Illustrated by Stephanie Serrano

With high housing prices in Northern Nevada, Reno is seeing community members choosing to stay in motels as long-term residents. The city created a motel inspection program late last year and the team recently conducted its first inspection. KUNR’s Michelle Billman sat down with our reporters Stephanie Serrano and Krysta Scripter to learn more.

Four key things to know about motel enforcement in Reno:

  • The motel inspection program includes a team made up of a code enforcement officer, a Reno police officer and a buildings inspector. They are in charge of making active motel inspections with a required 14-day notice to the motel. Tenants do have the right to deny access to the unit.

  • A recent city ordinance now requires motel owners to obtain background checks from managers as well as participate in a mandatory annual inspection of every unit and its exterior. Owners and property managers are expected to attend crime-free training among other requirements.

  • The long-term motel residents are often seniors living off of fixed incomes, like pensions. Many are suffering from serious health concerns. Although the units don’t have kitchenettes, some residents manage to make healthy meals by using rice steamers, a Crock-Pots or other appliances. Additionally, many motel residents face feelings of isolation, personal safety concerns and fears of rent going up.

  • Motels remain a safety net for low income residents as Reno’s affordable housing crunch continues. City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus says federal funding for affordable housing is down. Councilmember Oscar Delgado adds that the city can only suggest that affordable housing be built, but developers have the final say.
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.
Krysta Scripter is a former digital services assistant at KUNR Public Radio.
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