Safe Camp Winter Plan 2021

As winter is quickly approaching below are the steps Washoe County Housing and Homeless Services is taking at Safe Camp to help prepare our participants for the lowering temperatures and inclement weather:

  • Safe Camp staff remain dedicated to having housing focused conversations with our participants and encouraging them to pursue stable housing options as soon as possible.
  • To meet immediate needs, Washoe County has purchased blankets, gloves, socks and hats for Safe Camp staff to provide to all participants in the camp. Additionally, new tents have been procured to replace the ones that have been ripped, damaged or have broken zippers. Hot coffee and water are provided every morning, afternoon, and evening for the participants to access. Safe Camp staff has also been providing hand warmers to the participants who request them.
  • In the event temperatures dip below 32 º F, Safe Camp staff are regularly checking in with participants. Safe Camp staff check participants in the camp, provide information about the upcoming cold, hand out supplies when possible to do so, and encourage participants to access the resources available to them.

In addition to these steps, Washoe County’s emergency intervention and prevention strategies for the pilot Safe Camp program will be activated in a methodical approach as outlined below:

Transition from tent to Individual Shelters 

Currently, Safe Camp participants are provided with a tent, sleeping bag and a cot to sleep on in a
specific location within the Safe Camp. As the team has been assessing this pilot program and to protect our participants from the weather, Washoe County has purchased individual units that will arrive at the end of November/ beginning of December.  These shelters will replace the tents moving
forward. The individual units are insulated and provide heating and cooling in addition to access to electrical outlets for personal devices. As soon as the units arrive, they will be installed in the current temporary site, above the bowl (Governor's Bowl), while construction efforts continue in the permanent site, and then relocated to the permanent location in the completed Safe Camp site.

Cares Campus

In the interim, prior to individual shelters being installed and, in the event, it is anticipated to be below
50º F, with wind chill factored in, or if any precipitation is anticipated, the Washoe County Homeless
Services Program Specialist will arrange transportation to the Cares Campus sprung structure for
participants, where overflow of cots are accessible for emergency use. This will be provided
beginning 12 hours prior to the anticipated cold weather. If a large number of participants decide to
access shelter, Karma Box Project staff (KBP), the current operator of the Safe Camp, may be
requested to go to the Cares Campus site to assist with staffing. The Homeless Services Program
Specialist and the KBP Executive Director will provide staff with direction on when this will be needed.

Local Warming Centers/ Community Partnerships 

Although the Cares Campus is designed for overflow and cots are available for emergency use, the
County understands capacity concerns could take place. At the moment, staff are exploring
community partnerships and buildings that could be used as additional warming centers in addition to
the Cares Campus.

COVID-19 Quarantine Shelter During Winter 

Washoe County and Karma Box Project staff will continue to monitor participants for COVID-19
symptoms and positive cases. Staff will coordinate quarantine/isolation placements and in the
meantime, will continue to provide PPE and follow CDC guidance.

Additional Information 

If you are interested in additional information on Washoe County - Safe Camp Program, please contact Austin Solheim, Homeless Services Program Specialist, Office of the County Manager at 775-446-9293 or RegionalHomelessServices@washoecounty.gov.