RENO, Nev. (KOLO) When we first met Colleen Danielson, she was facing an uncertain future, literally not knowing where she'd be living.
At 74, a heart disease survivor living on $800 a month, her world had shrunk to a tiny studio apartment and she'd soon be losing even that.
The Civic Center Apartments had been sold. The new owners were planning an upgrade and a huge rental increase. She and the other residents--seniors and disabled vets--were being evicted. Just in time for the holidays they were being tossed into a housing market with little room for them.
She'd worked through a long list of potential leads with no results.
We took the problem to the attention of Ward Three Councilman Oscar Delgado. As it turned out there was little he or the city could do. The building was not under any affordable housing contract. The new landlord was fully within rights.
He did bring residents valuable information--a city-produced emergency resource guide--leads on possible housing, phone numbers of agencies which might be able to help.
And he made calls, one of which led Colleen to a group of apartments on Third Street. She applied and Thursday got the good news that an apartment was hers.
"I got the call and she said 'You've got the apartment. We're going to rent to you. There's no hurry to come over.' And I said 'Oh, no I'm coming over right now.
Relieved doesn't quite describe her feeling.
"I have a home. I didn't know what I was going to do. I thought I was going to end up in a motel with my cat."
It still almost didn't happen. The new owners don't plan on returning residents' deposits until they move out. That leaves Colleen and the others without the funds to place deposits on new homes, if they manage to find them.
But our stories prompted several of our viewers to call us with offers to help her or any of the other residents. Colleen is using one such offer--which she plans to repay--to hold her new apartment until she moves in the first of the year. She worries about the others.
"Now we have what, 32 apartments (other residents) that need a home."
One of our viewers asked about a GoFundMe page. Colleen was reluctant to accept the responsibility for others' money.
But the community group ACTIONN offered to administer it through the St. Vincent De Paul charity. Donations are coming in.
"That's obviously great news that so many people have stepped up to help," says ACTIONN Community Organizer Area Overli, "but we keep seeing the same situation over and over and so many of them need help. I don't know even with all the help if we're going to get all the help we need."
Colleen Danielson put a human face on a serious issue facing our community. Local government is starting to move toward some solutions. This week she was one of many who urged the county commission to set up a trust fund to encourage development of affordable housing.
Any relief from that effort is still a long way off.