How do young people find Covenant House?
Young people experiencing homelessness find Covenant House in a variety of ways. Some are referred to us from other partner organizations. Some learn that our doors are open 24/7 from peers, school social workers or guidance counselors.
But for those young people who can’t find us, our dedicated street outreach teams go to them. Offering food, hygiene products, clothing, and a warm blanket if needed. Most importantly, offering absolute respect, unconditional love, and a bridge to hope.
We support relentlessly.
Our outreach teams know that even just a few minutes of positive interaction can be life-changing. Stephanie Taylor, who has been providing help and hope to young people on the streets of Detroit as a member of our Covenant House street outreach team since March of 1998, explains:
“Building trust with young people is the first step. By being out every night, and providing basic needs like food and water and clean clothes, we hope we can show young people by our example that we love them and that we can be trusted. So many of the young people we meet have been hurt and abused and neglected by adults. Every young person needs love and opportunity, and that is what we are bringing to the streets every night.”
A race against time
More than ever in our Covenant House history, the streets are a dangerous place for young people experiencing homelessness. Our street outreach efforts have never been as important as they are today.
Increased violence, access to dangerous drugs like Fentanyl, and gangs have intertwined themselves with street culture. Human trafficking has become a “business” that preys on vulnerable people, and children and youth experiencing homelessness are a prime target of this criminal industry. And, there are simply not enough services where people experiencing mental illness can go.
Investing in community
Our street outreach teams are deeply invested in the communities where they work. Here are are just a few ways Covenant House is involved in community outreach and engagement:
Our teams attend committee meetings, sit on town councils, and visit local schools, hospitals, and community group events to help inform and teach on the issues of youth homelessness.
Our outreach teams work with partner organizations in combating human trafficking and striving for new ways to change laws, policies, and practices that are unjustly leading to so many young people, particularly young people of color, being unhoused and on the streets.
Outreach staff visit schools, community centers, and houses of worship to educate and inform young people of services that are available.
Welcoming youth to Covenant House
When our street outreach team brings a young person to Covenant House, we welcome them with unconditional love that starts by meeting their most critical needs through crisis care. As they journey toward independence, we are privileged to walk alongside them as they pursue the great promise of their lives.
Mike Blockson, street outreach coordinator at Covenant House Texas says,
The best way to do outreach is to let them know that we'll be there when they're ready. Sometimes, what I've experienced is that, you know, young people, they don't know who we are… So what ends up happening, we just keep coming back, keep coming back, and just let them know when they're ready for services we'll be there… They’ll come when they’re ready.