The Journey Home

A Roadmap to Ending Youth Homelessness

The Issue

In the United States

Approximately 4.2 million young people experience a form of homelessness each year. On a single night in 2023, more than 34,700 unaccompanied people under the age of 25 experienced homelessness on their own as “youth.” Nearly four in ten of them were unsheltered. Black and Latino youth are are 83% and 33% more likely to experience homelessness than white youth, and LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness.

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Serious looking youth | The Issues | Covenant House

In Canada

In Canada

6,000 youth are experiencing homelessness every night. Indigenous people comprise just 4% of the national population, but they represent more than 30% of all young people experiencing homelessness in Canada. Young people of color make up about 19% of the Canadian population but comprise more than 28% of all youth facing homelessness.

Source: A Way Home Canada

Homeless young woman under bridge

In Latin America

In Latin America

From 2002-2022, the number of unaccompanied children referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement jumped from 13,625 to 128,904.

Source: US Border and Customs Protection 

In 2020, 73% of detected survivors of trafficking in Central America were minors, 71% were for sexual exploitation and 21% for labor. 

Source: United Nations 

4.1 million children in Mexico and Central America will need humanitarian assistance in 2024, including children on the move and in communities affected by violence, displacement, food insecurity, malnutrition and climate-related disasters. 

Source: UNICEF 

Indigenous and Afro-Latino communities have historically had limited access to economic advancement as well as to elite spaces, leadership, elected positions, and political decision-making. Afrodescendents in Latin America are 2.5 times as likely to live in chronic poverty compared to white and mestizo people.

Youth hugging | The issues in Latin America

Defining Youth Homelessness

Youth in unstable and unsafe housing are on a trajectory to increased trauma, instability, and are exposed to greater recurrences of being unhoused.

Sharing an accurate picture of homelessness, especially in our Latin American sites, is challenging due to the varying definitions of homelessness across our continuum and the difficulty of counting individuals. Census data is based on household and considers those living in shelters and receiving government aid, but researchers struggle to count those who reside in structures not intended for housing, couch surf, and/or relocate frequently.

We must accurately define and effectively count young people experiencing homelessness, so that we can appropriately resource those in need.

Defining Youth Homelessness

The Impact of Covenant House

Covenant House builds a bridge to hope for young people facing homelessness and survivors of human trafficking through unconditional love, absolute respect, and relentless support. Our doors are open 24/7 in cities across the United States, Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Our strengths-based programs are designed to empower young people to rise and overcome adversity, today and in the future.

Each year, millions of young people across the countries where Covenant House operates programs face a period of homelessness. Our services and programs help youth overcome the harsh experience of being unhoused.

The Impact of Covenant House


Since its inception in 1972, Covenant House has served more than 1.5 million young people experiencing homelessness with a warm bed, food, health and wellness services, a case manager and the most powerful piece of all - unconditional love and absolute respect, across 34 cities in five countries.

Covenant House in 1972


In 2023 alone, we reached nearly 58,000 young people and provided 790,000 nights of safe housing.

Covenant House in 2023

Our North Star

As Covenant House looks to the next 50 years, we must ask ourselves, what do we hope to see for future generations of young people?

Do we seek to create a world where no youth will experience homelessness?

Our North Star is ending youth homelessness as we know it today.

To do so, we must ask ourselves:

Youth receiving assistance at Covenant House

What conditions must be created in communities across the world to end youth homelessness?

Smiling youth at Covenant House

What role should Covenant House assume to bring this desired future state to life?

What We Learned

The Voices of Covenant House


Staff, CH Alaska

“Even before most young people end up on our doorstep to access our emergency shelter, we have a team of people that is going through all the known places they can think of within the city — camps and such — to talk to the young people and make sure they’re aware of our services.”

The Voices of Covenant House



President & CEO, CHI

“We need to change laws, policies, and practices that lead to youth and young families becoming homeless in the first place. This act will make an impact so that our youth, who work so hard overcoming homelessness and pursuing their dreams, can have places where they can actually afford to live. We have a lot of important work ahead of us.”

The Voices of Covenant House




“I had goals when I arrived but I didn't know how I would achieve them. Suddenly I had a whole team to support me. They allowed me to reach where I am now, independent.”

Julissa - Alum | Covenant House



CEO, CH Honduras

“To see that kind of commitment on the part of our people, it’s above and beyond. The children see that we are really there for them.”

The Voices of Covenant House, Candida

Statement of the Opportunity

The Journey Home: A Roadmap to Ending Youth Homelessness

Covenant House is expanding our footprint as the recognized thought leader and convener in the field of youth homelessness. 

Through building an advocacy platform, a community impact model that promotes education and awareness, and a pathway to a continuum of affordable housing, aftercare, and healing supports, we have an opportunity to end youth homelessness for future generations.

Covenant House New York

Our Desired Future State

What We Learned - Our desired future state


A collective mindset around ending youth homelessness and active engagement as a federation.

Covenant House Day of Renewal


Recognition as a national and international leader/thought partner.

Funding for Change, not just need


A funding environment that is not just based on crisis needs, but the opportunity to make meaningful change.

Lifting up the voices of experience


Lifting up the voice of those with lived experience.

Former Homeless Youth


Increased trauma-informed and healing practice throughout.

Youth receiving assistance at Covenant House


A collective impact model around the homeless continuum.

Covenant House Will Focus on Three Pathways to Ending Youth Homelessness.

The pathways support a continuum that promotes strong practice, an informed workforce, and the power of community and cross-sector engagement.

Covenant House Alumni, Dash


Creating the conditions necessary to mitigate homelessness and further involvement into social serving systems.

Looking Ahead to 2024 - Advocate for improved public policy and government support


Advocacy to change laws and practices that are leading to youth homelessness and support expanded affordable housing options for young people.

Looking Ahead to 2024 - Improve

Community Education

Community education to raise awareness about the causes, signs, and resources for youth at-risk of homelessness and trafficking in the communities we serve.

Looking Ahead to 2024 - Grow and fortify our housing continuum

Short-Term Interventions

Short-term interventions that mitigate the need for youth at risk of homelessness to enter homeless systems of care.

Pathway 1: Prevention | The How


Build partnerships in the domains of social determinants of health: education, economic and food security, health, wellness, and community.


Develop and implement international, federal, state, and local homelessness support and affordable housing advocacy platforms.


Host a homelessness convening and learning collaborative annually, first with Covenant House leaders and then beyond.


Design a "train the trainer" curriculum that informs community impact, data informed advocacy, and best practice implementation across pathways.


Develop short-term interventions designed to keep at-risk youth from entering systems of care.


Dramatically increase awareness in communities we serve through robust and deliberate community education campaigns.


Lead the engagement internally and externally to create a unified definition of homelessness.


A continuum of data-informed practices and supports that ensure youth homeless experiences are rare, brief, and non-recurring.

Looking Ahead to 2024 - Grow and fortify our housing continuum

Covenant House Program Model

Adoption of the Covenant House Program Model across the federation.

Looking Ahead to 2024 - Enhance our capacity as a learning organization

Mental Health and Workforce Development

Increased investment in mental health and workforce development practices that will enable youth people to thrive.

Looking Ahead to 2024 - Strengthen our operating model

Data, Evaluation, and Research

Use of data, evaluation, and research to inform and adapt practices to produce the best outcomes for youth.

Pathway 2: Intervention | The How


Implement the Covenant House Program Model federation-wide.


Expand trauma-informed and healing practices.


Improve intake assessment practices.


Expand mental health services.


Constantly analyze data to inform and adapt our practices to be most effective.


Expand and increase youth involvement in life skills planning through mentoring and teaching.


Expand data informed practice to create a robust continuum of services and supports within CH and through partnerships with external agencies.


Increase investment in our workforce development programs to ensure youth obtain meaningful and sustainable employment.


Housing and Healing: Develop an affordable housing and wraparound supports continuum.

Looking Ahead to 2024 - Continue to grow our brand awareness and revenue diversification

Alumni Communities

Development of robust Alumni Communities of support for ongoing connection with youth.

Looking Ahead to 2024 - Strengthen our operating model

Short-Term Interventions

Grow resources for short-term interventions to keep alumni stably housed in times of crisis.

Looking Ahead to 2024 - Grow and fortify our housing continuum

Affordable for Youth Housing

Develop effective and robust affordable for youth housing for young people exiting to independence.

Pathway 3: Restoration | The How


Develop and implement an affordable housing continuum.


Expand the alumni support network.


Expand aftercare wrap around supports.


Support a youth-centered design model.


Expand and create new strategic partnerships within the social determinants of health.

How We Succeed

We can’t do this work alone. 

Covenant House is always expanding our community of supporters and advocates to include individuals, companies, foundations, faith-based organizations, and program alumni. Our most successful partnerships are collaborative and affirm the dignity and wholeness of the journey of each young person at Covenant House.

How We Succeed

The Snapshot

A Roadmap to Ending Youth Homelessness


1) Advocacy

2) Community education

3) Short-term interventions to prevent system of care entry


1) Adoption of the CH program model

2) Mental health and workforce development

3) Use of data, evaluation and research


1) Alumni communities

2) Short-term interventions to prevent system of care re-entry

3) Affordable-for-youth housing

Please Don’t Wait, You Can Change a Young Life Today.

Your gift today will ensure we can continue to fight human trafficking and relentlessly support young people facing homelessness.