Reno and Washoe County Family Resource Centers emergency assistance.

One agency in the greater Washoe County Nevada region are the regional Family Resource Centers. On rare occasions, the organization may have emergency funds available for working poor families facing a crisis. However, staff will try to refer qualified applicants to other local resources for their needs, whether it is job training or applications to government benefits.

Housing solutions

There are three main components. They include emergency shelter, long term solutions such as Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and emergency, one time rental assistance, which may come in the form of loans. Based on an assessment that is done, one or more of these may be administered.

Section 8 is usually marketed as a win-win for very low income, economically disadvantaged renters and also property owners across Reno and really the state of Nevada. It provides rent subsidies to eligible families, if they meet the very low income guidelines that are in place. It also guarantees monthly payments to landlords as well as apartment communities.

A waiting list is almost always in place, and it may be years long. When a family is eligible for a voucher for their rent, and funding is available, local public housing authorities (PHAs) issue the family a voucher. Then, the participant can look for an affordable house or apartment anywhere in Washoe County,  as long as the home meets program requirements. Unlike Public Housing, the section 8 allows beneficiaries to select a property (whether home, apartment or condo) of their choice in the private rental market.

Staff from Family Resource Centers will also partner on this process, and they address the Self-Sufficiency aspect of it. The objective of this is to reduce or eliminate the need for public assistance. So clients will learn about everything from opening a saving account to increasing their income and building credit.

Emergency rent assistance is offered to some qualified tenants. Aid is limited, and is usually first come and served. There are national solutions such as Rapid-Rehousing and Homelessness Prevention, or more local funds raised from the community. In partnership with churches, the government and other human service agencies, Family Resource Centers can try to arrange these funds for rent and also provide case management. They will also coordinate an array of social services to help stabilize tenants.




Shelters are offered for the homeless. Staff from Family Resource Centers can help people find a site that has beds available, and maybe place them into a site. However, these too can often be filled and a shelter is not always available in Washoe County.

Other support from Family Resource Centers

Basic needs, ranging from food to clothing and holiday assistance may be available from time to time. This will be only provided after an application process, and one time support from the centers will only go to the people in a crisis that was not of their creation. This assistance, such as food, can go a long way to preventing hunger in the community and will help clients get back on the path to stability.

The Family Resource Centers Development team will hopefully break the cycle of poverty or homelessness. Services could include employment, job training and retention skills. Other topics covered will be budgeting, credit counseling referrals, and information on low income housing in the region. Other services will be parenting instruction and education assistance.

Specialists as well as volunteers work with families to set goals, and this will be mandatory if someone is applying for financial help or grants for utility bills. So in other words, no funds will be issued for any type of need, whether food or bills, if the client does not work work towards stability.

IDA - Individual Development Accounts are also part of this process. They are offered in partnership with local community action agencies, and this service addresses one of the main obstacles encountered by people with low incomes. That is their lack of assets, including saving accounts, and corresponding financial insecurity. IDA can address these challenges.





A team of professionals are also part of the Family Resource Centers employment services. They support people who are committed to finding employment that offers a life sustaining wage. Among other things, they network with employers to find unfilled jobs, and may even refer candidates to recruiters who tell them exactly what they are seeking. There are also Job Skills Training classes, Career Counseling, Coaching, and other resources brought to bear on this endeavor.

Other programs from Family Resource Centers may be as follows.

  • Weatherization is a local federal funded program available in Washoe County. It is free, and will improve the energy efficiency of older homes.
  • Get referrals to affordable child care as well as information on vouchers and subsidies that can offset costs.
  • Learn about grants and benefits available in the state of Nevada, ranging from TANF to low income energy bill help.
  • Applications to SNAP food stamps can also help families facing hunger.

So residents can learn about all of those resources, and more. The Family Resource Centers have multiple locations in the county. In the Reno area, dial 775-321-5037. Sparks families can ring 775-353-5733.



By Jon McNamara

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