Story by Tabitha Mueller | Images by Ty O’Neil
The Eddy House, a center offering support for homeless and at-risk youth ages 18-24 in Northern Nevada, recently unveiled their 24-hour temporary housing facility on Willow Street. The new building features a 50-bed sleeping area, multiple showers, hangout zones, and rooms that will become a technology center as well as spaces dedicated to health and wellness.
Executive Director Diaz Dixon gave This is Reno a tour, describing how the facility is almost 14,900 square feet larger than the organization’s current building. The increased size will allow the nonprofit to expand its services to the roughly 800 homeless youth who use the center every year.
The new Eddy House facility will also open each night on a first-come, first-served basis for overnight housing for young adults. The extra beds will alleviate stress on Reno’s adult shelters and provide youth with space and services tailored to their needs.
Sometimes, people don’t have the tools that other people do. It’s our job as a community to help build that toolbox.”
A place to “get out of survival mode”
Organizers are creating spaces for meditation classes, gyms, counseling sessions and sleeping, and developing a short-term six-month transitional program centered around getting youth out of homelessness.
“[With this new facility], we’re going to be able to give [homeless and at-risk youth] a place to sleep. We’ll get them out of that survival mode. But there’s more to it.
“By having this exercise room, you have a place to be able to burn off some steam or be able to find a healthy way to cope with some things that maybe you’ve been masking or running away from,” Dixon said.
According to Dixon, homeless and at-risk youth may be coming out of a foster care system or from a background without a safety net, room for failure or knowledge on how to navigate the world.
“Sometimes, people don’t have the tools that other people do. It’s our job as a community to help build that toolbox because we’re only as strong as our weakest link,” he said.
He described how the short-term six-month transitional program Eddy House is developing for the new space will provide housing for young people as they gain the resources and skills necessary to move into a more stable living situation.
The transitional program will require youth to complete community service hours, participate in workforce development programs and attend therapeutic services.
Dixon said the six-month transitional program, along with Eddy House’s other services, are vital because “research shows that if you’ve intervened with this particular age, 85 percent of them will never be homeless as adults. So imagine if we can stretch ourselves out and cast a wider net in our community and give them these resources even a little bit longer. If they’re successful, they’re breaking a cycle that perhaps their kids won’t have to experience.”
Eddy House staff are still preparing rooms and fundraising for projects, but they hope to open the house to residents around mid-January.
They are partnering with various community organizations and businesses to provide beds, programming, and funding. Lexis’s Gift will be opening a closet in the new facility for youth to have access to clothing they could use for interviews.
The Eddy House organization is still looking for sponsorships of various rooms in the new building. To contribute, head over to the organization’s website (http://eddyhouse.org/contribute/).
Tabitha Mueller is a freelance writer and multimedia journalist based out of Reno, Nevada. She is fascinated by storytelling, place, and the intersection of narrative and data analysis and holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography and English and American Literatures from Middlebury College. When she is not tracking down a story or listening to podcasts, you can find her hiking Nevada’s gorgeous terrain, perusing local bookstores, playing Quidditch, and discovering Reno’s hidden stories.