As with everywhere else in this country, Northern Nevada is experiencing rapid growth in our homeless population. Everyone complains about it, but very little is done to help these people.
People become homeless for a variety of reasons. It isn’t a one size fits all situation. If I had full control to do anything I want with the situation, I would create a rural town where people could choose to start over. There would be a distribution center that would provide employment for people to get their life back on track. There would be affordable housing and they would pay rent based on their income. They would of course have access to whatever necessities most people would typically have access to.
Why a random newly created town? People need to be able to start over. If you look at a place like Reno – people know where they can get drugs if that's what brought them to their situation. If they’re an alcoholic, Reno is surrounded with alcohol establishments and it is something addicts would have trouble getting away from. Gambling is another problem where they may get their first paycheck and hope to double it. Before they know it, they lost their entire paycheck. Then you look at the cost of living. How is someone trying to get their life back on track going to afford to live in a place like Reno? You also have to factor in problems outside of addiction. Like the elderly and disabled people who can’t work or don’t have family to help them. Or people with mental health problems who don’t have the support necessary to move forward in life. This place would need to have support services for mental health and people struggling with addiction.
From personal experience, I was always worried about the “what if” I became fully homeless and people I know saw me? You have to wonder how many out there still worry about what others think of them in their current situation. If they’re from a place like Reno, they could very well run into someone they know at any given time. How much is embarrassment still affecting people even after they have officially stayed in a shelter? Then you have people who may have once been very successful and something like mental health brought them to their situation. They may now think their chances of ever having a good job again are completely dissolved.
Local shelters should be more of a temporary situation for people or a transitional place. Long term, Reno is not a good place for someone to rebuild their life. They need to be sold on a place that can get them the help they need and they can start over without any triggers or distractions. Everything they need should be in one place and a true fresh start. I think this should be a special place that people have to be serious about changing their life and starting over. NOT A CULT. Not everyone should get to go if they aren't going to take it seriously. Before they leave Reno, they would be cleaned up, know where they need help, and be ready to take advantage of the help being offered to them. It isn't worth wasting anyone's time or money.
We can try to keep helping people, but it becomes a waste of money and the homeless population will never go down if there are triggers that lead them to their situation. They need a fresh start in a new place. Somewhere they don’t have to worry about running into anyone they know. They can get help for whatever their problem is. They can change their life completely – get a job and have shelter. We can keep feeding the homeless population until we are blue in the face, but until they can have a REAL fresh start – the problem isn’t going to go away until the distractions do.
While I feel this is going to be a long shot to get people on board with it, this is what I think needs to happen. It would be something that could benefit many major cities and not just Northern Nevada. It would need to be planned out properly and could very well work. As for people who don’t want to go – that’s fine. At least we know that these people have options and we won’t feel bad when we drive past them without giving them money. It would also be beneficial to make stricter laws. If homeless people don’t like the new laws, then they know they have options. The more laws are enforced, the more likely they will do what they need to in order to start over in a new setting.