North Tahoe Truckee Homeless Services celebrates wins from Annual Report, reflect on the challenges still facing the community
TRUCKEE, Calif.— As the winter approaches, many people who are considered to be homeless around the Basin, whether that be by sleeping on a friends couch, in a car, or even on the streets, are wondering how they will be able to survive the harsh conditions the season will bring.
Agencies like the North Tahoe Truckee Homeless Services and United for Action are continuously looking for solutions to the problem that has swept the country. Through the Homeless Resource Council of the Sierras, the newly-formed Homeless Advisory Committee will become possible, bringing together these stakeholders over the next twelve months to help form the shared vision.
The Homeless Advisory Committee will be facilitated by Agnew Beck Consulting with financial support from the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, and will bring officials from places like Truckee Hospital, Placer County, and Nevada County to the table to evaluate the successes over the past two and a half years of having more comprehensive support for unhoused neighbors.
“[They’ll] try to come to a shared vision of what long-term sustainable, right-size solutions are of this region,” said NTTHS Program Director Catherine Foley, “because it’s going to really take all the stakeholders at the table to support something like that moving forward long-term.”
Foley explained that some other great successes that came from the year, which was outlined in the agency’s Annual Report for the July 2022- June 2023 year, included being able to keep their emergency warming center open 79 nights throughout the year, which was a 72% increase from years before.
“So that’s a really big win,” said Foley. “But from our point of view and my point of view, it’s still really sad that we have people that are outside or in their cars on those remainder of nights, because last winter was brutal.”
While it is difficult to determine how many people are actually facing homelessness in the Basin, Foley explained that last year alone there were 277 individual people who sought help or services at the Day Center for NTTHS. Not all people who were included in that number were necessarily living here previously full time, some just needed short term help, and many do not report that they need services at all.
“I wish there was a more accurate number of how many people are really experiencing homelessness,” said Foley. “Those numbers are really hard to pin down.”
Another success that NTTHS was able to report was housing 25 individuals, 18 households, effectively ending their homelessness.
Six of the households were chronically homeless, meaning they had experienced homelessness for longer than a year, and have a disabling condition. Twelve of the households were newly homeless, for reasons such as their housing was sold, the landlord moved in, rent was increased, or a number of other reasons.
“It’s a big win to continue to have housing case management available to help people as they get settled in their housing,” said Foley.
Through ending homelessness and offering resources to help people continue to stay housed, NTTHS is able to continue to be a support for the community. But even NTTHS has faced their own challenges, finding it harder to fill open positions due to the housing crisis.
“We get some applications, but when people don’t live in the area, once they start looking, they’re not able to make it work,” said Foley. “So that’s a challenge.”
Another challenge that NTTHS and other agencies must face is the stigma around homelessness, which can prevent people from understanding the full needs and reasons around why people can become homeless.
“Anyone can be homeless, and there are a lot of people in our region who may not be homeless and living outside and be the stereotypical unhoused person that people associate with when they think of homelessness,” said Foley, “but that in this region, anyone can be homeless.”
Foley explained that everyone has a story, everyone is a brother, a sister, a mother, a cousin, a human, and everyone deserves to be treated as such.
“It touches a lot more people than we actually see,” said Foley.
To learn more about NTTHS and how you can help, visit http://www.ntthomelessservices.com.
Miranda Jacobson is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sun. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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