Covenant House Texas, a local non-profit that helps youth experiencing homelessness broke ground on a new facility in Montrose on Thursday. The organization recently tore down its old building because of aging and limited space, but the new facility will house more young people in need, which was a struggle at its previous location.
The faith-based non-profit has been helping homeless youth ages 18-24 with shelter and supportive services for 40 years. Covenant House was started in New York City in 1972, with 31 locations in North and Central America. The Houston location opened in 1983 provided youth with shelter, food, clothing, and more.
"We embark on our next chapter and mission to serve youth enduring homelessness in our community," Leslie Bourne, Executive Director of Covenant House Texas. "Here we are today 40 years later celebrating the building of our new campus – this is a special day we have anticipated for a very long time."
The new four-story, 104,000 square foot building will occupy more youth, supportive services, clinic and mental health spaces, a computer lab, music studio, fitness center, chapel, outdoor greenspace and other necessities that will help youth transition into adulthood.
The non-profit serves over 1,000 homeless and at-risk youth annually equating to over 22,000 nights of housing each year. Bourne said even with those numbers being significant, there's still an increased need among the youth.
"We have a waiting list with over 40-45 homeless kids every night waiting to get into our emergency shelter," she said. "And that's not including 15-20 that we fit on emergency mats."
She said the new facility will allow them to provide more assistance.
"When finished I'm confident that this new building will reflect the safe haven, absolute respect, and unconditional love that Covenant House Texas extends to every young person that enters our doors," said Bourne "We want every youth to leave us transformed, stepping confidently into a fulfilling independent life."
The new campus is around $51 million through a public-private partnership with various partners including contributions from both the city and county. The city contributed $6.7 million in Community Development Block Grants and COVID-19 funds and the county put in $4.1 million.
Officials said Houston has reduced homelessness in the city by 30% and youth homelessness by 60%. Turner said the new Covenant House facility is another step towards the city’s goal of reducing homelessness.
"I hope in the city of Houston we are sending a message that no child in respective of their status should be living on the streets in the city of Houston," he said. "They deserve a home and they deserve a home with a whole lot of love."
The non-profit moved its youth into temporary apartments managed by the organization in Third Ward and are asking for donations after the properties were burglarized and vandalized last week. The units were stripped of furniture, TV's, thermostats, AC units and appliances. The units were severely damaged and the youth are not able to live in them.
The new location is expected to be completed next year.