A Place to Sleep During the Count
Gaeta along with Eddy House staff, members of Our Center, the Nevada Youth Empowerment Project and other volunteers are organizing this year’s Housing and Urban Development required homeless youth Point-In-Time Count running 24 hours from midnight tonight.
The buzz of activity for local youth in need is at the old converted home on east 6th street, which usually closes at 5 p.m. On this night though, it stays open.
“I am glad because...this [Eddy House] is the central intake facility for at-risk and homeless youth,” Gaeta said. “So the youth are already familiar with this area. Also, it gives them a chance to sleep here, sleep in a safe environment, which is probably the biggest bonus.”
Free haircuts, hygiene products, and three meals will also be provided. Gaeta believes that, unfortunately, the count will yield the highest numbers of homeless youth yet. For statistics compiled in 2017, HUD reported that Nevada had the highest rate of unsheltered youth in the country.
Challenges to Reach All Unsheltered Youth
Whatever the efforts, including the ongoing use of fliers and social media, Gaeta fears some youth will be missed during the count. Many social workers say the numbers are usually quite higher than what the counts indicate.
“During the count itself we’re going to be trying to find youth that don’t already know about the event or have trouble getting downtown,” Gaeta said, in an attempt to get as many concerned youth counted.
The count’s official page posted this notice: “Looking for young people sleeping in the following areas... On the street/outdoors/park/river … On roof(s)/in a garage/attic/basement/storage structure … A place in a house not a bedroom (kitchen, couch, bathroom).. In a friend’s house or family member’s house on a temporary basis … Sharing a living space with another family … In a Car/van/camper … Abandoned building… Emergency Shelter… Weekly Motel…”
Collecting Donations While Still Striving for a 24 Hour Facility
As the Eddy House collects donations for all its activities and resources, it’s also still working towards one day opening a 24-hour facility, where youth don’t have to fend for themselves every night when the doors at the drop-in center close.
“We want to be open 24 hours at the location that we're at but it's just not financially feasible and that's always hard, you know, to have to turn away our youth at the end of the day,” Gaeta said. “Hopefully with the new facility, if we do get that, that will change and everything will be great but, you know, it's always painful to have to do that. But I'm glad at least one day out of the year we can provide that comfort and a place for them to sleep.”