Residents Voice Concerns About Group Home

RENO, NV - A few dozen southwest Reno residents gathered at Idlewild Park’s California Building Wednesday night. They came to voice their concerns about a new group home for troubled youth set to open in the neighborhood next month. The house at 1453 Pass Drive can accommodate up to ten teenagers at a time.

“Our plan is to have a residential group home for adolescents who have drug and alcohol and or non-severe mental health disorders,” Quest Counseling Executive Director Denise Everett said. “We don’t intend to take children with a history of violence, sexual predators or anyone with a gang affiliation.”

She says the home will be a very secure facility and will be staffed around the clock.

“There will be at least two or three staff members on each shift and the youth will receive their actual services at our outpatient facility on Lakeside Court,” Everett said. “The kids will be there to go to school in the afternoon and we’re planning on planting a garden in the back and having other recreational activities. I know some of the neighbors are concerned about traffic issues, Pass Drive is a narrow street, but hopefully there will be very little traffic in and out.”

She says the home will house youth ages 13 to 17 and they won’t have cars or be able to leave the building unsupervised.

“We’re hoping people will embrace us we plan on being good neighbors and not getting in anyone’s way,” Everett said. “We want to keep a very low profile and just want these kids to have the opportunity to aspire to something different than they might have been raised with or with the choices they’ve recently been making.”

By law a group home is considered residential use.

“Per federal law we’re not allowed to discriminate against a group home any more than we’d be able to on a regular single-family home,” City of Reno Planning and Engineering Manager Claudia Hanson said.

But the idea isn’t sitting well with a lot of nearby residents, particularly ones who’ve had problems with another group home on the same street.

“I’m not against the treatment center but we already have a group home directly across the street and this is another one going in directly across from our house,” neighbor Lisa Stamm said. “We have traffic concerns, safety concerns and it isn’t that we’re against drug and alcohol rehab, it’s that we want to keep our neighborhood the way it is and it’s changed since we’ve had the other center – the eating disorder center- there.”

She says a lot of neighbors have raised the same concerns about safety.

“My husband and I have already talked about trying to figure out what we’re going to do about reinforcing the safety on our locks and those kinds of things,” Stamm said. “It’s a small street and we’re like family. We feel like we live in the country even though we’re in the middle of the city which is really unique so we’d like to keep it that way but things change so we’ll see.”

Reno Police Department Deputy Chief Mike Whan talked to the group about statistics regarding group homes in the Reno area.

“These facilities are all over the Reno area and the statistics I’ve pulled is very limited calls for service around the neighborhoods with similar facilities,” Whan said. “I also want to emphasize that any time there’s any type of activity or anything they don’t feel comfortable with, residents should give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to go check on it.”

Quest says they hope to have the home open by June. The RPD has offered to look at traffic and parking issues in the area and some homeowners suggested getting legal advice on the effect a home like this could have on their property values. The biggest concerns for residents, though, concern safety.

There are a lot of concerns but safety is at the forefront,” Stamm said. “It’s a small street and it’s too much, two homes is just too much.”

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