Despite the Reno City Council’s troubling year of sexual misconduct investigations, excessive debt creation and city gentrification problems, Mayor Hillary Schieve went into little detail about last year’s chaos in her State of the City Address last Thursday evening. Schieve instead said she was dedicated to creating “a new culture to lift Reno up for years.”
Last September, former Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger resigned due to several misconduct complaints against him. A five-month investigation into the misconduct complaints against Clinger found there was not enough evidence of sexually inappropriate relationships in some of the complaints. However, the investigation did find that Clinger headed an unprofessional work environment that had harmed one of the women who had come forward to complain about Clinger.
Schieve was vague in her speech when discussing Clinger’s termination and simply said the city had “hit some turbulence.”
Schieve also alluded to the huge amount of debt the City Council has accumulated throughout the last two years.
While we are still recovering from the recession,” Schieve said. “Our Council remains committed to fiscal stability. For one, the city’s total debt has decreased by more than $150 million dollars, and our fund balance totals more than $19 million under the leadership of this City Council.”
In a report from the Reno Gazette-Journal, the previous city council went through a period where it borrowed a large amount of money and racked up more debt than the city could afford to pay back.
While the city has significantly decreased their debt, Reno is still ranked 113 out of 116 cities for financial stability, according to the Fiscal Times. Reno ranked below North Las Vegas which, according to the RGJ, has almost had to declare bankruptcy for several years. Reno ranked above New York City and Chicago.
The City of Reno has also come under fire from many homeless and community advocacy groups for their redevelopment plans that include the destruction of low-income housing and weekly motels.
ACTIONN, a community advocacy group, has been focused on bringing awareness to the displacement of homeless and low-income residents in the city. In September, ACTIONN hosted a “Week of ACTIONN Against Gentrification,” where community members discussed personal stories of displacement and shared ideas about how to bring it to the attention of the City Council.
“When we say we’re against gentrification, we’re talking about outdated, unjust community development policies and projects,” said Mike Thornton, the executive director of ACTIONN. “[We are] calling for a 21st-century community development agenda that focuses on creating jobs, justice inclusion and affordable housing. It is about saying yes to creating a sustainable city that meets the needs of all its current and future residents.”
In the State of the City Address, Schieve briefly addressed the issue of displaced residents and homelessness by discussing the Reno Works program. The program recruits individuals from homeless shelters and trains them for ten weeks. During the ten-week period, they are taught life skills, given education opportunities and full-time employment. The program was spearheaded by Ward 5 Reno City Council Member Neoma Jardon.
Schieve also announced the City of Reno will allocate $160,000 to the program over the next two years.
“I’ve also enlisted the help of a working group called Operation Downtown,” Schieve said. “This group is made up of business owners, developers, City of Reno staff, and others who want downtown Reno to rise. But in order to do so, we need more affordable housing options. That’s why Operation Downtown and the City held a recent affordable housing workshop to identify ways Reno can take action. We are looking for ways to incentivize more affordable housing projects by participating in public-private partnerships, such as building affordable housing projects on city-owned land.”
Operation Downtown works with the Reno Housing Authority and with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help provide low-income housing to individuals and families in need by supplying rent vouchers to individuals and building affordable housing complexes.
Schieve identified one of the city’s affordable housing projects called Vintage at the Crossings by developer Dane Hillyard. Vintage at the Crossings will be located on the five-acre lot next to the South Town Crossing shopping center and near the intersection of Old Virginia Road and Damonte Ranch Parkway. She also said there would be more affordable housing projects coming to the city in the next year.