Magazine article Public Management

Award for Programs for the Disadvantaged in Memory of Carolyn Keane Populations of 50,000 and Greater; Reno, Nevada

Magazine article Public Management

Award for Programs for the Disadvantaged in Memory of Carolyn Keane Populations of 50,000 and Greater; Reno, Nevada

Article excerpt

ICMA presents the 2004 Award for programs for the Disadvantaged in Memory of Carolyn Keane in the 50,000-and-greater category to Reno, Nevada, and City Manager Charles E. McNeely for the Homeless Evaluation Liaison Program (HELP).

Traditional policing methods of increased enforcement and incarceration for misdemeanor vagrancy crimes were not solving the problem of a chronically homeless population in Reno, Nevada (pop. 195,000). The approach only ameliorated the homeless problem for the number of days the individual was incarcerated, amounting to an expensive attempt to address the issue with poor results.

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In 1994, the city of Reno developed the Homeless Evaluation Liaison Program (HELP), an alternative solution that could cut the cost of incarceration to $75.00 per day as well as reduce the nearly 100 percent rate at which homeless individuals return to the street.

It has been determined that most homeless individuals suffer from mental health and/or alcohol problems. These problems contribute to their disconnection from support systems and families, thus leaving them alone on the streets to deal with debilitating circumstances, often with little or no hope. The goal of HELP is to assist the homeless in getting back to their families and the critical support systems on which everyone in society depends.

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HELP is a joint project of the Reno police department and the Washoe County sheriff's department. Each agency has assigned one officer to the downtown HELP office, which is located inside the Greyhound Bus terminal. Officers are equipped with mountain bikes to patrol areas where the homeless gather, such as along the river corridor, in parks, and in alleys. Upon encountering a homeless person, an officer can refer the individual to the HELP office, where they are interviewed to determine what assistance is most needed and what resources can best provide that help. …

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