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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
August 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Service Help for Seniors at Reno Housing Authority
by Donna Clontz
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Donna Clontz
Donna Clontz

Recently, one of the members of our Reno senior board was at a Reno Neighborhood Advisory Board meeting where a woman in the audience was in tears over the lack of affordable housing here. She told them she was soon to be homeless and has been frantically looking for a new place to live that she could afford. She prefers to stay here in Washoe County, but has gone as far as West Wendover to try to find a place to live and has found nothing yet. Wanting to help in any way he could, our board member took her information and contacted me to find out how he could assist her.

My first call was to Cathy Steed, Resident Services Coordinator at the Reno Housing Authority (RHA), who is a wealth of information about local affordable housing and support services for seniors. Before coming to RHA, she spent 16 years working with the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division (ADSD) so is an expert on all manner of services for seniors. Contact: or (775) 329-3630.

Steed helps her RHA residents access wraparound services to meet their needs. She works together with Mirabel Martinez, an RHA Asset Manager. Contact:, fluent in Spanish.

Martinez manages three RHA senior and disabled complexes with a total of almost 300 units (some one person, some two person). Mirabel said, “Our managers care about every resident. We do well-care checks to make sure they are doing ok in their homes. We keep an eye out for falling incidents, inability to make meals or do housekeeping, failure to take prescribed medications, getting behind in bill paying, signs of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation and more. If we see something wrong, we work with the resident or their family members to fix it. Cathy and I make a great team, and we love our work and our clients!”

Steed said, “We work with our RHA residents 1-to-1 and do frontline services, like helping them pay bills, solve maintenance issues, get them qualified for NV Energy support and SNAP (aka Food Stamps), assist with Medicaid applications, and Medicaid/Medicare questions. We also bring some of our service partners to our community center, such as SHIP (Medicare counselors), Access to Health Care, Food Bank, veterans groups and others to make presentations, answer questions and help the residents access the services they need. We want to give them the tools they need to live better, healthier lives.”

So, do we help prevent our senior lady from becoming homeless? Cathy’s advice was:

1. Have her talk to Joti Bhakta, the lead Senior Services social worker at Washoe County’s Ninth Street Senior Center located at 1155 E Ninth Street, Building E in Reno (775-328-2575).

Contact: or (775) 328-2773.

Bhakta or another Senior Services social worker will speak with her to see what local services she might qualify for. Among the immediate services might be a bed at TADS (Temporary Assistance for Displaced Seniors) which includes emergency housing and a case manager’s help finding more permanent housing, getting a job or qualifying for supporting benefits) or other services she needs. More information about Washoe Senior Services can be found at www.washoecountyus/ seniorsrv.

2. Ask who her health care provider is and, if she uses Northern Nevada HOPES, Community Health Alliance, or Access to Healthcare for her medical needs, have her contact them ASAP. They have social workers/case managers that can help with housing and other services.

3. Contact Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada at or (775) 315-6081 and ask to speak to staff that help with housing issues and work with RHA.

4. Contact the Volunteers of America about their transitional homeless housing at (775) 322-7143 or www.voancnn. org/northernnevada.

5. If she has not applied for housing at RHA, have her get started on that right away. If she’s an atrisk senior (60+) or a veteran, she gets priority. The various types of housing lists open and close all the time, so it’s best to start the process now. Contact:, or (775) 329-3630, or drop by the office at 1525 East Ninth Street in Reno.


I’m keeping my figures crossed for our senior lady to find a new home here or to get some emergency assistance while she finds it. I know that we have excellent, caring staff at all the agencies described above. We just need to know where to find them.

Get a copy of our Reno, Sparks, Washoe County Elder Services Guides & Resources at or call (775) 237-8375.