Reno was doing everything right.
He was the first to arrive at rental open houses. He’d have the first and last months’ rent ready and all the information required. It wasn’t enough.
“People would turn me down as soon as they saw me. Being a young Black man trying to find housing was very difficult. I felt very defeated,” he said.
His time at Eva’s changed everything, including the way he responded to systemic racism. From the moment he walked through the doors, he felt free to be himself and grow into the person he knew he could be.
“The life skills I learned, and the housing support I received at Eva’s left an imprint. It’s stuff I still use to this day: learning how to get and stay out of debt and save money, learning my rights as a tenant… I didn’t know any of these things,” he said.
At Eva’s, Reno learned life skills and earned as many licences as he could, including one in security. Meanwhile, Eva’s staff helped him overcome housing barriers.
“Staff members would come to viewings with me to see the conditions of where I was going to move into and help me advocate for my rights as a tenant. They encouraged me not to give up, to keep going,” he said.
“Them wanting to experience what I was experiencing, that was motivation in itself. They see you, they work with you, and they want you to succeed.”
In time, Reno got his first full-time role at a hospital in security. Within 18 months, he was promoted to supervisor. Today, he lives independently and is pursuing his passion for music, acting, and modelling.
Reno walking the runway at New York Fashion Week.
Reno taking a selfie with his photo on a billboard at Yonge & Dundas Square.
He’s proud of the person he is. “I’m not ashamed of my story because it’s what made me who I am today. I never gave up.”
It takes a whole community to fight anti-Black racism and its effects on youth experiencing homelessness. Break barriers.