In vans and on foot, Covenant House outreach workers go out to the neighborhoods, riverfronts, parks, and other places where youth facing homelessness often seek refuge. They offer food and counseling and invite them to come to Covenant House, where their immediate, basic needs can be met. Through sustained contact, our outreach workers build trust with the young people, the first step toward encouraging them to come into our shelters and connect to our services.
Covenant House welcomes all young people facing homelessness with unconditional love, absolute respect, and relentless support, and our shelter doors are always open, 24/7. Even during the worst public health crisis in a century, we quickly adjusted our procedures, provided for social distancing, and kept our programs going. We know young people experiencing homelessness can’t wait for a crisis like this to be over. Their unmet needs for nutritious food, clothing, shelter, safety, medical care, and mental health care require immediate attention. Covenant House provides high-quality services and programs to meet those needs, stabilize a young person’s situation, and help them begin to consider their longer-term goals for education, employment, and career planning. We are expertly equipped to respond to the unique needs of young survivors of human trafficking, those who identify as LGBTQ, and those who are pregnant or parenting.
Homelessness impacts young people’s physical and mental well-being in many ways, and because youth are still developing cognitively, physically, psychologically, and emotionally, those impacts can have deep effects. This is even more the case for young people of color and those who identify as LGBTQ, who face unique challenges associated with racism and prejudice. Covenant House welcomes all young people facing homelessness with unconditional love and absolute respect and provides them access to a range of health and well-being services that they can use to heal and rediscover their potential. Our trauma-informed, resilience-focused programs and services range from medical care at our on-site health centers to yoga classes, music lessons, counseling, religious and spiritual services, and sports. In these activities, young people retake control over their lives, build on their strengths, and nourish their self-confidence.
Young people arrive at Covenant House with dreams that have been disrupted by homelessness. Only about 21% are enrolled in school at the time of intake. Advancing educationally and preparing for the world of work are key to a young person’s prospects for leaving homelessness behind. Either directly or through referral, we guide youth to appropriate educational and vocational opportunities, matching each young person’s strengths and abilities with their career interests. We help them hone the skills they need to join the workforce, become independent, and turn their back on homelessness.
Covenant House’s transitional living programs, often referred to as “Rights of Passage” or ROP, are where young men and women take their boldest steps toward independence. Youth live in ROP for up to 18 months, where they tap their potential and plan for the future. Here they build basic life skills and financial literacy, participate in educational and vocational programs, seek employment with long-term advancement and career prospects, and work toward moving into their own safe and stable housing. Our staff support each young person on their journey toward sustainable independence and a hope-filled future.
Covenant House Pennsylvania also opened our new Rapid Rehousing program in 2020. This program helps to remove the barriers to stable housing. We help the youth secure their own lease and establish rental history while helping with move-in costs and providing them case management. We also work with the youth to ensure that they can maintain the lease financially at the end of the first year.