Motel living in downtown Reno presents challenges like lack of healthcare and other necessities. The program Kids to Seniors Korner provides help for those living in low-income housing.
Kids to Seniors Korner (KSK) is an outreach program with seven community partners that include Washoe County Health District, Washoe County Adult Social Services, Washoe County Senior Services, Washoe County Child Protective Services, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Reno Police Department.
“Projects like Kids to Seniors Korner come to certain areas of town and offer services to people in need of help,” J.C. Lopez, an officer for the Reno Police Department, says. “They then refer and connect them to the programs that fit each person’s specific needs.”
KSK provides services to at-risk populations that include many motels downtown. These services include vaccinations, in home assessments by social workers and police officers, help accessing healthcare as well as other necessities and follow-up visits to make sure progress has been made.
“People decide to live in motels when they can’t pay a deposit and the first month’s rent for an apartment,” Sandra Carrillo, the director of Kids to Seniors Korner, says. “The ones getting by on Social Security or disability are only getting a check once a month, and that’s who we are usually in contact with the most for this program.”
The people living in motels do not have to pay utilities. They often assume because they don’t pay utilities, it’s cheaper to live in a motel than it would be to live in an apartment, but sometimes it can be even more expensive.
Living in a motel is often transitory. For various reasons, families don’t usually stay in the same motel very long.
“Motels are not really set up for full-time living,” Jason Stallcop, an officer for the Reno Police Department, says. “Sometimes there are families being raised inside the motels, and the children grow up with the parking lot in front of the motel as their playground.”
Kids to Seniors Korner have had some funding donated and have been able to help some families move out of a motel and into an apartment for more permanent housing. KSK would like to do this for even more families in the Reno area, but the funding comes and goes making it difficult.
Besides lack of healthcare, other common problems that occur when living in motels include lack of cleanliness, lack of transportation, and usually a bad surrounding environment.
“People living in motels are usually on disability or welfare,” Lopez says. “What we’ve found is when you deal with people living from motel to motel, they’ve either made some bad choices in their life, and they can’t get good jobs; they’re ex-felons or they’re injured and can’t work.”
Kids to Seniors Korner runs an activity called “Knock and Talk.”
“The team goes door-to-door ‘knocking and talking’ to residents,” according to the Community and Clinical Health Services section of the Washoe County website “‘Knock and Talk’ sessions provide information about community resources, safety and health assessments, and suggests referrals to other community services. Health and social services are provided free of charge in the neighborhood where the Kids to Seniors Korner team is ‘knocking and talkin.'”
April 15, KSK did one of their “Knock and Talk” events at the MacGregor Inn on Sixth Street.
“When motels are shutdown for whatever reason, Kids To Seniors Korner helps the families being evicted transition to a new place,” Kathy Dickens says. Dickens is a nurse giving vaccinations in the van KSK uses to visit and provide services to different motels in the Reno area.
The Jet Annex at 75 High St. is being shut down due to uninhabitable living spaces. Kids to Seniors Korner, the Mobile Outreach Safety Team and other officers from the Reno Police Department knocked on every door at this motel to make sure everyone would be able to make a smooth transition to a new living space. If people were having any difficulties, the members of KSK made a note and referred them to a program that could help.
KSK puts on numerous events to help the community.
“We do an Easter event, where we have a pancake breakfast for the families, games for the kids and then we’ll give them an Easter basket,” Carrillo says. “We also have a ‘stocking stuffer’ event for Christmas and back to school events where we go to The Outlets at Legends or the Summit to give vaccinations.
KSK has an event coming up called “The Baby Shower” where they will help pregnant moms who don’t really know where to get a crib, car seat or other information. KSK also helps coordinate The Project Homeless Connect Event. They have different agencies attend including housing and employment. At this event, KSK offers haircuts, vision vouchers, clothing or whatever resources are needed.
“It’s just a really good program,” Carrillo says. “I think a lot of people don’t know exactly what we do, and it is a great way to help families that wouldn’t otherwise have the money, knowledge or other resources to access the programs that are offered to them.”
“We love being able to help the people we come in contact with,” she says.
Kids to Seniors Korner accepts volunteers and donations from those wanting to make a difference in their community.
“We have families with young kids who aren’t receiving services,” Lopez says. “What Kids to Seniors Korner does is amazing and very helpful.”