Reno-area homeless people may be sheltered in World War II-era military barracks at the Reno-Stead Airport under a plan being considered by regional leaders.
The barracks, which were closed early last year, had been used a training center for the Nevada Army National Guard.
“The barracks were in good shape when we left,” Nevada National Guard spokesman Emerson Marcus said.
The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority Board will decide Friday whether to allow Washoe County or the city of Reno to lease the buildings for emergency housing.
It’s a preliminary move that board member Jessica Sferrazza supports.
“We were going to do a teardown on them, but for temporary shelter, I think it works,” she said.
The guard’s training center was closed after the airport authority wanted to begin charging $40,000 a year rent. The guard had paid $1 a year under the previous 50-year lease.
Sferrazza said she doesn’t anticipate the airport authority would charge local governments to use the barracks for emergency housing.
Local government leaders have been struggling to keep the area’s homeless population safe as the coronavirus spreads through Nevada.
On Saturday, the city essentially closed its three shelter locations and opened the Downtown Events Center to sleep 400 people at least six feet apart.
The Record Street shelter is still open for showers, laundry and meals, and is used by homeless individuals who need additional medical care, according to the shelter’s director, Pat Cashell.
The barracks have showers and a kitchen, Sferrazza said.
Individuals also would be able to sleep in smaller groups.
The barracks, however, are one of several options under consideration, according to Councilman Devon Reese.
“We need to know which publicly owned buildings can be activated, at what cost, who can operate them, will they be secure for the purpose they are intended, and what are the liabilities,” Reese said.
Editor’s note: This story was edited to specify the Nevada Army National Guard used the training center and to update Marcus’s title.
Anjeanette Damon is the government watchdog reporter for the RGJ. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @AnjeanetteDamon. If you care about shining a bright light on decisions made by your elected officials, please consider subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.
Read or Share this story: https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2020/03/25/ex-military-barracks-stead-could-shelter-reno-area-homeless/5083139002/