RENO - It's a day skeptics thought would never come: All the services for all the homeless in one place. The last missing piece is a building which will house a number of services and a shelter for families.
Wednesday contracts were approved for the operation all of the shelters here.
For those who had worked on the project there were smiles all around. "I think the staff is in shock. We've been working on this for five years" says Reno city staffer Maureen McKissick.
Actually it’s taken decades to get here. Over the years no less than 32 locations for a comprehensive homeless shelter were discussed and discarded. Then the city bought the Record Street property to make way for the train trench and in 2005 they broke ground. A men's drop in shelter and St. Vincent's Dining Hall were built first. They addressed part of the problem, but there was initially no shelter for families or single women.
The new building fills that last gap. Services housed on the main floor, rooms for families above. Even, we're told, playground equipment for children on the roof.
Getting it built, it turned out wasn't the last problem. With budget cutbacks it looked as if there wouldn't be the funding to open it.
That took some last minute fundraising, with local foundations like the Nevada Women's Fund and the Redfield Foundation stepping up. Still, the city was still short a couple of weeks ago when an unnamed benefactor walked into Mayor Cashell's office and asked for a briefing on the project. Before he was done he'd written a check for $250,000.
With that money in the bank, Wednesday the council approved a $975 thousand dollars contract with a non-profit organization, Volunteers of America, to operate all of the shelters. It was time for congratulations and applause.
Much of the applause was for the mayor who many credit with leading the way on this project. He was quick to share the credit with council and staff and, of course, that anonymous donor who put them over the top.