Housing and Homeless Services

Safe Camp FAQs

  • Where will the Safe Camp be located

    After many community conversations about the need for expanding the capacity for emergency shelter, in a concurrent meeting on November 18, 2020, the Washoe County Board of Commissioners and the City of Reno and Sparks City Councils voted to acquire and cost share three parcels on East 4th Street for the purpose of expanding shelter capacity in the region to assist people experiencing homelessness.

    One of the purchased parcels included the Governor’s Bowl Park which was discussed to be a safe camping location.  The location was identified to serve as a safe space where people living in encampments could relocate providing access to basic services and a more secure location for individuals not wishing to move into shelters.

  • What rules will be put into place at the Safe Camp

    Policies and procedures have been developed for participants, to maintain a safe environment where all participants are treated with dignity and respect. The Safe Camp follows a low barrier, harm reduction model to be as inclusive as possible. 

    Please note: Weapons, drugs and alcohol aren’t allowed onsite at the Safe Camp. If a participant is found with drugs or alcohol they will be asked to dispose of the items or take them offsite.  

  • What will the admission process and criteria be for the Safe Camp

    The Safe Camp is designed to be as low barrier as possible while maintaining the safety of all participants. Couples and single adults 18 years of age and older will be eligible to stay at the safe camp, sobriety will not be a requirement for admission to the Safe Camp, in regards to pets, the team is exploring how to accommodate pets at the safe camp. 

    Admission Criteria 

    • To be eligible the person must be willing to work towards a housing plan and be able to manage their own activities of daily living.
    • A very simple application form has been developed that asks the bare minimum amount of information needed to be able to make an admission decision and ensure the person meets the minimum criteria.

    Pilot Partners

    • Given this is a pilot program, we will be distributing and collecting applications through pilot partners to pilot the application process.
    • Applications will ONLY be distributed to pilot partners, who are the only people that can submit an application on someone’s behalf, however, any community member can work with a pilot partner to get an application submitted.
    • Pilot partner group is comprised of people who are doing outreach with an existing organization or government entity.

    Pilot partners include

    • Eddy House
    • Health Plan of Nevada
    • Washoe County MOST team
    • City of Reno - Clean and Safe Program 
    • Safe Camp Case Manager
    • Karma Box Project

    Application Review

    • The Washoe County Housing and Homeless Services (WCHHS) team will review applications for completeness.
    • Pilot partners will be engaged to review the list of applications and assist in the development of the approved participant list.
    • Pilot partners will assist in determining ideal move in dates and existing community groups that may desire to be placed in tent groupings in close proximity and/or have corresponding move in dates.
  • When will the Safe Camp open

    The Safe Camp is in the development phase for the long-term camp. As this process takes time, Washoe County developed a temporary site to operate while construction for the long-term site is underway. The temporary site opened June 17, 2021.

    The layout, budget and construction timeline for the long term site are currently being established. Professional staff are engaged in the infrastructure development to address all location matters including site grading, emergency access, ADA access, drainage, utilities, etc. A tentative opening date for long-term site will be shared as soon as it becomes available.

  • Will drug use be allowed at the Safe Camp

    The Safe Camp is intended to implement a harm reduction model and sobriety is not required to be a Safe Camp participant. However, for the safety of those in the Safe Camp, drugs, alcohol, and weapons are not allowed on premises. If a participant is found with drugs or alcohol they will be asked to dispose of the items or take them offsite. 

Program model
  • How is participant feedback incorporated in the operational model

    Participant feedback is incorporated in the operational model by a Safe Camp Participant Advisory Board. The Advisory Board is comprised of Safe Camp participants only and per the Advisory Board Charter, includes Officers elected to positions by members of the Advisory Board.

    The purpose of this Advisory board is to give Safe Camp Participants a voice on issues involving the Safe Camp, housing of homeless persons, and other services provided. This board meets on a weekly basis and advises the Contracted Operator and the Homeless Services Program Specialist on how they can improve services.

    All Safe Camp participants are invited to attend meetings to provide feedback. 

  • What food services will be provided

    Lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages are provided to all Safe Camp participants.
  • What is the purpose and desired outcome of the Safe Camp

    To provide a sanctioned location for people currently living outside that reduces the environmental, public health and safety concerns of unregulated encampments.

    To provide a sanctioned camping location to reduce the negative impacts of unsheltered people being forcibly removed from a location.

    From this stable location, engage Safe Camp participants in housing focused conversations, service referrals and housing placements.

  • What services or programs will be accessible to Safe Camp participants

    A model is being developed to bring services on site and Washoe County is working on partnerships with existing programs. Programs and services offered will be housing or employment focused.
  • What transportation services will be available to Safe Camp

    Linkages to transportation was a key consideration for the Safe Camp location.  The safe camp is 0.2 miles away from the nearest bus stop location at the 6th and 4th street intersection.  This bus stop provides access to the 4th street bus station, a key hub for bus transportation in our area.
  • What will staffing levels be at the Safe Camp

    Washoe County has established a full time Washoe County position, to oversee the administration of the Safe Camp. In addition, the Safe Camp is a Washoe County initiative with a contracted operator.

    The contracted operator is responsible for the day to day operating of the safe camp and is responsible for hiring staff for that specific role. Washoe County has also contracted with a social worker to provide housing focused case management and 24/7 contracted security staff.

  • Why are portable propane heaters not allowed in tents

    Portable propane heaters are not allowed in tents at the Safe Camp due to fire safety risk and close proximity of the tents.

    Additionally, personal heaters have previously been reported in a tent fatality.  

  • Will fires be allowed within the Safe Camp

    Fires are not allowed onsite. Options to provide shelter from adverse weather events such as cold, wildfire smoke, extreme heat, etc. are explored.
  • Will tents be provided

    On June 17th, 2021, when the Safe Camp pilot program initiated, the program provided participants a tent, sleeping bag and a cot to sleep on in a specific location within the temporary Safe Camp site. As the team continued to assess the program, the decision to transition from tents to individual ModPods was made late Fall 2021.

    Participants are invited to bring any possessions that can fit within their assigned ModPod. Safe storage of belongings will be accommodated as capacity allows. 

Site administration and development
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »