Eddy House got its start back in 2011. “My husband passed away, and I was finishing my graduate degree in social work, and I wanted to make a positive out of that negative situation,” Lynette Eddy explains. “So I used the life insurance money to slowly do something for the homeless youth—because I was an at-risk youth. … I was shocked to see how many of the homeless were young, mixed in with the older homeless, and were getting preyed upon. It’s a whole different population, but they weren’t separated. I knew I had to do something.” She bought a house in northwest Reno—and Eddy House was born. In January 2020, Eddy House moved into a new facility, a 16,335-square-foot former commercial building at 888 Willow St. To learn more, visit eddyhouse.org.
What are the reasons youth are on the streets today?
Our kids are on the street for different reasons than adults or older homeless people. Many come from homes with a lot of drug use; some kids come from unstable homes. Kids who come out as gay are sometimes kicked out of their houses at a young age. It’s a lot of abuse at home. They find themselves on the street because of the economy, too. Kids at our house were sleeping in cars. We had some kids—they would go out every night to try to find an unlocked car and sleep in it.
Can you share a success story?
We received a call when we were starting the house. My son, who was helping me get everything set up, got the call from this kid who said that he had just gotten into an altercation with someone and got stabbed. It was a roommate situation, and he needed help; he didn’t know who to call or what to do, and he had just aged out of the foster-care system and moved in with roommates who happened to be drug dealers. My son went over there, called the police and took this kid to the house. He stayed at the house and eventually got on his feet. … Today, he’s an electrician.
What are some of the services you provide?
We have a drop-in center. Until a couple of years ago, we had to shut the drop-in center down at 5 p.m., and that’s when we moved over to a permanent location on Willow Street. We have an overnight shelter, and we’re open 24/7 for kids who need a place to sleep at night where they can shower, and we give them food and all the services to get them back on their feet. We take care of basic needs, but we also have a community-living program with about 35 beds, and these kids come in more long-term. They work with our staff, setting and meeting goals, getting back to school, getting an apprenticeship, getting a job and training. They have access to mental-health support. We’ve had many success stories from the community living program.
How much does substance abuse play into this?
There is substance abuse among the families and (the kids) themselves. Unfortunately, some deal with mental-health issues and substance abuse, and sometimes you wonder which comes first. We don’t really have severe addiction problems … but mental-health problems are the real issues, so we focus on that. We have fully licensed counselors on staff, and they work with the kids.
What do you think society can do to help combat this issue?
Oh my God, I’ve got the answer: I’ve done a lot of research on Housing First. It’s the national model that’s working around the country. The city of Reno sent me to a Housing First conference a few years ago, and I came back with so much that my mind was blown. I reported it to the mayor’s people, and I hope we go in that direction someday. Basically, we provide a roof over (a homeless person’s) head and supportive services. It has to be with supportive services—mental health, addiction, physical health, group therapy sessions; yeah, the list goes on. It’s pretty much what we do at the Eddy House, but on a larger scale. You have to have all the resources available to them to get their GED, help with that internship program, and unions can come in and provide training programs. We do it at the Eddy House, but we could do it on a larger scale for the over 24-year-old crowd. It works for us; why wouldn’t it work for (people) over 24?