Young on the street

Homelessness is a long time problem in the city of Reno. Many families or kids become homeless because of layoffs and exhausted unemployment benefits.

In a small survey conducted during Washoe County's last Point in Time Count of Homeless Youth, 32 percent of respondents said it was their first time being homeless, 57 percent had left home before their 18th birthday, and 35 percent said their parents had experienced homelessness, too. Sixty-three percent maintain contact with their parents, 15 percent have aged out of foster care, and 14 percent have been homeless five years or longer.

Homeless is more than being without a home. It can also mean not having education, food, security, mental and physical health, or a stable living environment. Many kids move to the street life hoping for the better. Most kids do not receive the guidance that they need, or never get the opportunities they wish for. They know the basics like finding food to eat and a place to stay, but they all need more guidance. They need help to get on the right path. My talks with some of the homeless people allowed me to see their perspective, and it's like we live in two different worlds.

Volunteering at the Youth Point In Time Count was a big eye-opener for me. It was a reality check that allowed me to see the struggles and problems we face in the real world. The Homeless Youth PIT Count happens every January, and is a joint production of Nevada Youth Empowerment Project and Build Our Center.