Reno’s City Park of the Week
Whitaker Park 550 University Terrace

The sign at the entrance to Whitaker Park announces that it’s a “Kiddie Park, furnished by the Arch Lions Club.”

After Reno Hot Sheet (RHS) checked out the permanent homeless presence in the park this week, including a barely-leashed resident pit bull large enough to maul a child, the Arch Lions Club members should change the name to: “Bring Your ‘Kiddies’ At Your Own Risk” Park.”

RHS found 3 major homeless camps.

Homeless Camp #1:

One vagrant camper, fading in and out with mental illness episodes, said he’s been camping illegally in Reno for 19 years, and has NO interest in any of the city-offered services.

He said he has a bad back, knees, and feet so he can’t work, but somehow manages to own and ride a bicycle nicer than mine. He complained that the City “closes the bathrooms at 5:00,” which means for at least 12-15 hours/day, the grass the children

play in, is his restroom. When asked when he showers, he said, “Never,”…and looked like he was telling the truth. RHS asked him why he didn’t go use the city’s homeless shelter services, he said, “They don’t help anybody; they just want to stay employed, and it’s a mess.”

When asked why he didn’t check into the Gospel Mission’s program which DOES help people and is NOT “a mess”, the man just started swearing.

The man said he lives on a $771 mental disability check and $17 worth of food stamps. We asked him why he doesn’t go to any of Reno’s 25 food pantries to get more food, and he said he had no interest (note: Food stamps can be – and usually are illegally sold, whereas regular free food from the food pantries has no resale value).

We asked him why he doesn’t rent a room by combining his check with another similar person’s check. Together, they could rent a room for half or less of both checks, and both of them would have enough left over to start saving some money for places of their own. He had Zero interest in this option, because the Police make staying in the park convenient for him.

RHS asked him how the Reno Police treat his law-breaking camping. “They just tell me I can’t camp here, and once in a while give me a ticket.” He said he had to go to court and then jail in mid-October for a recent ticket. When asked how long his jail sentence was, he replied, “The judge gave me two days.” We asked him what happens after he completes his 48 hours in jail, he said, “I’ll just come back here and keep camping.”

Homeless Camp #2:

Another Whitaker Park homeless camper was a woman and her husband. He was not at their tent because,” …he had to go to work today to support us,” she said. “Work”, it turned out, was walking to a nearby street corner to beg for money. Her story had many similarities to her neighbor’s: no willingness to move into a shelter that had rules, no interest in being helped with straightening out her life issues, no interest in working even part time. The way she differed from her neighbor was in her even more vehement feelings about the City’s homeless shelter. “I’d like to get a bomb and blow that f_ _ _ing place up,” she yelled. There’s nothing there but drugs, stealing, violence, and fights. They don’t help you or care about you.”

RHS also checked out the hillside homeless camps across the pedestrian bridge from St. Mary’s Hospital. The 45 degree hillside hasn’t kept half-a-dozen homeless camps from sprouting in this area.

Number of Homeless Camps Spotted: Half-a-dozen.

Closest Neighbor to the camps: UNR’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity house looks down on all of the camps.

Quality and Contents of Camps visited: Trash, drugs, and weapons, without exception

Total Homeless Campers Interested in Receiving Help Immediately: 1
Total Homeless Campers who followed through and called, as promised the next day: Zero

Interesting Side Note: St. Mary’s is allowing a trashed RV to illegally camp in its parking lot. Numerous calls to St. Mary’s about this situation to CEO Helen Lidholm’s office got no response. A visitor to St. Mary’s this week reported seeing a naked man moving around in the across-the-freeway camps we visited. This is an area where female UNR walk to cross the freeway.

Questions of the Week:

1) Why haven’t the Arch Lions Club members complained to the Police and City Council about how the park they tried to improve has been allowed to become a dangerous place where no parent in their right mind would take their children?

2) Why is St. Mary’s allowing illegal RV camping, and the lawlessness it attracts, to continue unchallenged on its property?

3) Why isn’t Phi Delta Theta fraternity, one of whose primary goals is to “maintain a high standard of morality,” getting involved with UNR and the Reno Police to remove the illegal homeless camps around their property, and their attendant immoral activities?

4) Why are the Reno Police Department and the City Councill allowing this crime to continue unchecked?

5) Why are Reno residents not calling the City Council and the Reno Police Department constantly until this situation is corrected?

6) Why do our print and electronic media in Reno not make this city-wide problem a top priority until it’s solved?

September 18, 2019