Tent City

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Advocates for homeless people set up a "tent city" Sunday outside the Nevada Legislature, camping overnight in freezing weather to call attention to a measure that would provide 20 million dollars for homeless services.

More than 100 people, including several state legislators, are in tents and cardboard boxes on the mall between the Legislative Building and the Nevada Capitol.

The campers include Bill Cole, a 66-year-old homeless man who was on a bus that brought many of the advocates from Las Vegas to Carson City, a 430-mile trip. "I think this is cool. It's about time. It's past time."

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, who's camping in a cardboard box,
says the money would be spent on "transitional housing" and support services for the homeless.

Leslie adds that the new state funds could help to break a cycle of high emergency care costs for homeless people - which she estimated at up to 20 times the amount of the appropriation.

Patrick O'Bryan, a Reno police officer who helps coordinate efforts to deal with the homeless, echoes Leslie's concern about the spiraling costs. He says he knows of one homeless man in Reno whose unpaid medical expenses hit about 250,000 dollars.