Homeless to be active in 4th Street celebration

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- The art, culture and breweries of Reno’s 4th St. will be celebrated Saturday in a first-of-its-kind block party. The idea is to draw attention to the area's revitalization, but the party will also draw attention to the area's homeless.

The Reno initiative for Shelter and Equality (RISE) feeds the homeless three Saturdays a month. This Saturday they were asked to move the event because of the block party, but the director of RISE says that defeats the purpose of the program.

"It is not about relocating us, it is about relocating our clients and the people who live down here and come here seeking services," said Ben Castro, Executive Director of RISE.

For about five years now Castro has been the executive director of RISE, which is a network of volunteers who provide a home-cooked meal to the homeless three times a month. The program is not just about food; it is also about exposing the average citizen to the homeless condition. That's something Castro says would be possible during Saturday’s block party.

"I don't think you can solve the homeless situation by just sweeping it under the bridge. If we are going to tackle this issue, then let’s tackle it head-on," said Castro.

Councilman Oscar Delgado says it was never his intention to hide Reno’s homeless issue when he asked Castro to move the event. He says it was simply about space.

"It was more of an issue of space than anything else and again, RISE and all the other groups that do really good work near the community assistance center, we applaud them. We thank them for their service," said Delgado.

Delgado says there was initial concern among organizers that the two events would interfere with each other. Now the events have decided to co-exist.

"If anything it will bring it to light and hopefully bring some new ideas to deal with some of these issues,” said Delgado.

The block party on 4th St. runs from 11am until 6pm Saturday. The RISE dinner is at 5pm.