Photo Courtesy of Our Town Reno
Angela, a 19-year-old homeless woman, rests on a sidewalk in downtown Reno with her service dog. The funding from the grant is to allow members of the homeless population to speak at live events around Reno.

A local media project has been given the opportunity to bring further awareness to the homeless population in the Reno area.

Our Town Reno, a multimedia street reporting project is the first project from Nevada to be awarded the #LocaloreLive Grant from the Association of Independents of Radio.

The highly competitive grant was only awarded to “six indie makers who pitched the most compelling ideas for bringing new innovation to an essential platform—the physical space of community,” according to the AIR website.

Our Town Reno was started in 2016 by the University of Nevada, Reno professors Nico Colombant and Kari Barber of the Reynolds School of Journalism. The project is comprised of photo, video and written material that shines a light on the homeless issues in the Reno area.

“I thought it was important to discuss poverty in Reno,” Columbant said. “There’s a statistic that said .2 percent of media coverage was about the poor, so it’s a population that is there but the media often ignores. Also, I saw students report a story or two about the poor and then move on to other interests, which is fine, but I wanted to create a platform that focused on it.”

With the grant, Colombant and Barber are planning three live events in the community this fall with partners KUNR and Voices. According to Columbant, the events are going to discuss affordable housing, services for the homeless and ideas for solutions to solve the housing crisis. In addition to speakers, poetry and live performances are planned to take place.

“We wanted to do some live community events,” Columbant said. “We believe face-to-face interaction is very important with these issues and oftentimes when you have these kinds of live events the mayor, an expert or some type of academic will speak, but we will be organizing live events where homeless people or people living in motels will be speaking directly to the community.”

According to Columbant, it is important that these events take place in various locations to show that homelessness can really occur anywhere.

“One of the events will be along the river, one where an old motel had been demolished and one likely at the Eddy House,” Columbant said.

Everything from Our Town Reno is open and free to the public and these events are no different,. In addition, all three events will be comprised into media products to be viewed online or heard on KUNR.