ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI ( KTVI )- According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, during a year there are approximately 550,000 unaccompanied, single youth and young adults up to age 24 who experience a homelessness episode of longer than one week. Approximately 380,000 of those youth are under the age of 18. While these are rough estimate made using imperfect information, it is a good starting point from which communities and the federal government can begin to scale resources and interventions. In St. Louis City there are 1,500 homeless youth alone.
Ultimately, better, more accurate data must be collected on the number of youth that experience homelessness as well as the effective interventions to end homelessness for youth. Currently, only approximately 50,000 youth per year are served by targeted homeless youth programs. One local organization is on a mission to end youth homelessness in Missouri.
Covenant House Missouri is a non-profit organization that empowers homeless, runaway and at-risk youth to live independently and become contributing members in the community. With open doors and open hearts, CHMO builds a bridge from homelessness to opportunity.Covenant House Missouri offers 24 hour crisis services to youth ages 16-21 seven days a week.
In the third millennium, Covenant House will continue to fulfill its mission by providing shelter and services to children and youth who are homeless or at great risk. In the spirit of open intake, services will be offered to all youth who seek help, with a priority of concern and commitment to those for whom no other service is available.
The Crisis Program is not subject to any predetermined criteria except if the youth is a danger to self or others. In that instance, we will refer the youth to appropriate services. Youth may live in the Crisis Program up to 45 days. Since opening its doors in May of 2008, Covenant House has served over 250 youth.
Youth are homeless for various reasons. Regardless of their reason, we are there for them. With open arms, we welcome youth to enter our doors where they will feel safe, secure, and relieved of all the stressors that involve homelessness. First we heal the body, then we heal the person. Immediate needs are addressed first i.e. food, shower, and clothing. Once basic needs are met, a plan is developed to assist the youth out of crisis and into stability.
Youth come to Covenant House Missouri from a range of life situations, including abuse, neglect, abandonment, mental-illness and lack of educational experiences. They also come from various communities across MO and IL with 39% being St. Louis County residents. The number one source of advertisement is through word of mouth referrals.
In 2008, Covenant House Missouri consolidated services in four locations to one facility, which allowed for additional programming and a 20 bed crisis shelter. Youth served increased from 2,157 in 2008 to more than 5,700 in 2011, a 165% surge. Demand for employee services has grown from 38 staff in 2008 to 57 in 2011.
The Street Outreach team provides services in collaboration with other agencies to ensure youth are protected from the predators on the streets. In addition, runaway and homeless prevention presentations are held at local middle and high schools, juvenile centers, and community centers in an effort to combat homelessness.
Homeless youth are found in abandoned cars, buildings, warehouses, and other unsafe areas and are offered access to:
For General Information: (314) 533-2241.
Covenant House Missouri
2727 North Kingshighway Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63113