Q1. The resurgence of Black Lives Matter has shined a spotlight on the failure of police departments throughout the country to truly ensure public safety. What would you do to address policing concerns impacting the black and immigrant communities and reimagine public safety in our community?
Q2. In addition to policing, how would you address racial injustice in education, housing, and social services?
Q3. COVID-19 has devastated local budgets. What would you do to address budget shortfalls?
Q4. COVID-19 has further worsened an already severe housing crisis in Nevada. How would you address housing security issues?
A1: Based on my 23+ experience working with Job Corps at-risk youth, I believe the local law enforcement agencies in general to be supportive of the black and immigrant community. Local law enforcement often called us to pick up our students if they were in an unsafe place and at times, even returned them to center for us. They went out of their way to help ensure our students didn’t lose their chance and continued education and job training at Job Corps. That being said, there is always room for improvement in any relationship. New opportunities for expanded sensitivity training for officers developed through a joint effort between law enforcement and the black and immigrant communities can go a long way toward building a comprehensive effort to maintain strong relationships which will foster friendly and safe relationships in our city. Funding for Reno police and fire should be scrutinized closely as data indicates that our local police and fire are understaffed compared to communities of like size and make-up. If police and fire were able to receive adequate staffing levels this could ease stress on the services provided, resulting in first responders operating with adequate staffing levels and equipment to best help serve all members of the community. These changes could help provide and develop more outreach and services for the black and immigrant sector of our population. As budget constraints allow, increased focus on constituent responsiveness should be the focus of the city’s first responders for the future.
A2: Racial injustice in education, housing and social services cannot be addressed in any meaningful way without addressing the huge disparity between income in this country. From a city perspective there is no one solution. The city cannot enforce an increased minimum wage which would truly benefit our subsistence level working poor in the community. Poverty breeds a vast array of dysfunction due to the major stressors it places on the family unit. Those, who out of desperation, turn to crime and become incarcerated are no longer able to contribute. One caretaker/provider may have to work multiple jobs and this can create a situation where children are looking to each other to role model leadership, rather than mature adults. When individuals experience housing insecurity, it is difficult to decide which bill takes priority on a limited income. Medical emergency or car repair can derail the most perfectly planned budget. The more the city can do to provide emergency relief and programs, the better the prognosis for the community. Poverty also has a detrimental effect on a child’s opportunity to learn. Problems at home caused by lack of money can be stress inducing and cause havoc in a child’s home life affecting their performance at school. Currently, insufficient access to the proper technical equipment necessary to participate in distance learning is at issue. The city can and must address these issues and provide emergency relief to help resolve racial inequity.
A3: The full impact of COVID-19 to the City of Reno budget has yet to be fully determined. There is no way to predict which businesses will be able to reopen and recover or shutter their doors permanently. This of course will affect the city’s revenue stream and more importantly it will stress the need for more services for those who have lost jobs and are unable to find new jobs. Uncertainty of timing for a viable vaccine is potentially devastating to a city that depends on tourism such as ours. The loss of our special events such as: Hot August Night, Burning Man, and Street Vibrations have depleted a much needed source of income for many local businesses. The best thing the city can do is to restrict spending and monetary commitments until the situation stabilizes. The city is currently monitoring to budget closely and with a hiring freeze and continued restrictions on filling positions of new vacancies. Salaries, wages, and employee benefits constitute approximately 71% of the cities FY2020/21 budget. Services and supplies account for 16% and other services make up the remaining 3%. Obviously, controlling all expenditures is important, but monitoring employee salaries/benefits without cutting them and city services is the priority for keeping the city solvent. All of this must be done while striving to make sure essential services for the most vulnerable in our community are maintained and supported to the best of the City’s ability.
A4: Housing in the city of Reno has been becoming increasingly less affordable. We have an insurgence of out of state buyers and investors swooping up single family residences and apartment complexes as soon as they become available on the market for sale. Often, these outside buyers will make cash offers which are quite attractive to sellers who don’t want to deal with offers contingent on the whims of loan companies. For the average individual, life as a perpetual renter is a cycle that can not easily be broken. Development of new affordable apartments and single family residences in Reno is a very difficult and prolonged process. Changes in land use can have harmful effects on existing neighborhoods and increased strain on critical infrastructures such traffic congestion, parking, police and fire services. The consequences of these problems are obvious. Reno’s latest data reports the number of unsheltered in the city has doubled since this time last year. This would seem caused by loss of income due to COVID-19, however, the city’s operator of the Clean & Safe program reported 2500 interactions with unsheltered individuals which resulted in only 38 cases of accepted services. So either the unsheltered did not want help, or they were not offered services that would actually help them. The City has a committee dedicated to addressing the needs of the unsheltered. I propose that this committee, seek vital input from the unsheltered community, then investigate and pose solutions toward making services more relevant and accessible.
No Responses Submitted
Q1. What are your top 2 priorities for Reno?
Q2. How would you increase local funding and incentives to develop affordable housing for low and middle-income communities?
Q3. How would you address the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color due to gentrification?
Q4. How would you support the growing number of renters in our community?
Q5. How would you create a welcoming and supportive community for immigrants and their families?
No responses submitted
A1. Two of the most critical challenges facing Reno right now are public health and safety, and housing. Should I be elected to serve another term on the Council, it will be my mission to propose and support policies that ensure the public health and safety personnel are deployed in the community and well-equipped to serve our constituents.
I will also work diligently to find smart, creative and sustainable solutions to increase the housing inventory in our city across all income situations so that all Reno residents—including the homeless population, which must be included with the same seriousness as any other constituent group in our city—can enjoy the security and dignity that comes with having a home.
A2. I understand that incomes throughout the region have not kept pace with home prices, which are being driven up largely by rapidly increasing demand and diminishing supply. To that end, the supply problem must be mitigated, and there are a number of ways to do that. Financing for homeownership is another factor that must be considered over time.
To begin helping our low and middle-income communities secure affordable housing, the City Council will need to work with state and federal agencies to ensure that policies and programs are put forth which support the development of a more diverse variety of housing options (like multi-family homes, townhouses, duplexes, and courtyard apartments), that better leverage existing programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and that create efficiencies in financing product usage by the public. Going into my next term, should I be elected, it’s my intention to continue to aggressively pursue solutions along these lines.
A3. The issue of gentrification is complex. Where some people see improvements in the appearance or economic offerings of a given area, others are understandably concerned that new businesses, remodels and developments are signs of future displacement of their community. In reality, these things are not hand-in-hand. Socioeconomic progress and the retention of one’s home or beloved place of business, worship or gathering—these things are not mutually exclusive, or at least they do not have to be.
To mitigate displacement, however, we must do at least two things. We must first be open as a city to increasing our housing inventory, understanding that as our population grows, so will the need for residences affordable at a variety of income levels. Increased housing stock will ease the burden on low-income residents and communities of colors as an increased supply will diminish the pressure of outsize demand—and it will provide these groups with potential pathways to homeownership over time.
We must also make sure that small businesses, which are often cornerstones of low-income communities and communities of color, are supported in their endeavor to generate income, to afford tenancy or real estate ownership, and to remain sites of incredible value to the people who frequent them as part of their neighborhoods.
A4. Again, housing inventory is probably the most important factor impacting the communities of Reno—and this includes renters, who currently represent the majority in our city and whose number is growing and many of whom have seen rents rising dramatically year as the population grows (thanks to a diversifying economy, which is a net positive).
The problem is that you cannot have balance when there are more people than there are homes, and that lack of equilibrium, over time, becomes damaging to the community thanks to its impacts on things like workforce development, talent attraction and retention, public health and safety, and homelessness.
I’ve mentioned that housing is one of my top priorities going into this next term. As I seek to build pathways to new residential and commercial real estate offerings to Reno’s citizens through my support of smart, economically and ecologically responsible development throughout the region, I’m not just thinking of a handful of people who should benefit. I’m thinking of local future homeowners, of renters, of people from all income levels who want to see their dream of homeownership realized in our town. I think that each of these groups of people should have the opportunity to live in a safe, secure place that they can call home, and I am committed to making that a possibility through my programs, and through my advocacy to state legislators for necessary changes in things like Nevada’s presently flawed tax code.
A5. One of the many things that makes Reno such a special place is that its population is made up of a wide variety of people from many different places, cultures, and walks of life. I celebrate that diversity in our population, which is why in 2017 I supported and voted in favor of the City of Reno’s adoption of the “Welcoming City” resolution, which affirms our city’s official commitment to providing all of its residents and visitors with equal treatment, friendliness, and the safe opportunity to contribute to the city’s vibrant economic and social life.
It’s one thing to think about this, but another to make sure that it is practiced by our city’s institutions. One way that I’ll make sure to ensure that the spirit of our Welcoming City resolution is executed in practice is to ensure that its tenets are understood by our Downtown Partnership personnel, who serve as the welcoming, thoughtful ambassadors for all people in our town—immigrants included.
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