Nevada Among Highest For Youth Homelessness In The U.S.

Nov 26, 2018

On any given night there are, on average, 400 to 600 homeless youth living on the streets of Reno. That’s according to Michele Gehr, the director of the Eddy House, a trauma care drop-in center for homeless youth. She sat down with KUNR reporter Stephanie Serrano to talk about the severity of this problem.

“In 2017 we saw at Eddy House 769 unique youth. This is an issue because in 2015, when Eddy House opened as a drop-in center, there were about 100 kids. This year, 2018, we are slated to see nearly 1,000 homeless youth,” Gehr says.

At the Eddy House the youth have time to access computers. They use this time to search for jobs, check emails or listen to their favorite song. Directly behind the computers are two portable beds where clients take turns taking naps. Since the Eddy House is a drop-in center, their time and space for resting is limited.
Credit Stephanie Serrano

Gehr works with these youth every day and she says the main difference between the youth and the older homeless population is their sense of hope.

“They view homelessness as a bump in the road, a temporary situation, and they just think if they get a job and a place to stay or a leg up or some help, that they can overcome this and live as a normal person.”

The food supply at the Eddy House is donated by community members whether that be nonperishable or fresh breakfast burritos in the morning. The youth associate the house with comfort, food being a big part of it.
Credit Stephanie Serrano

Being a homeless youth comes with many misconceptions. Starting with their appearance. Gehr says they don’t look like what many people may assume a homeless person looks like. You couldn’t tell the difference between a homeless youth and a kid living with a family.

“They just want to be normal because there is an element of shame. There is a stigma attached to homelessness. They don’t associate with other adult homeless, they don’t consider themselves to be homeless.”

An Eddy House youth uses a pen and paper to write down his goals and a list of weekly duties for the week.
Credit Stephanie Serrano

In the interview, Gehr discussed the danger the youth face out on the streets, with 100 percent of her clients reporting being sexually or physically assaulted on the streets of downtown Reno at least once a week.