Covenant House Illinois Launches New Shelter and Services for Homeless Youth in Chicago


Earlier this week, elected officials, service organization leaders and advocates for homeless youth came together to celebrate the official opening of Covenant House Illinois (CHIL) on the Near North side of Chicago. Covenant House International chose Chicago for its first new location in 17 years, because of its dedication to addressing the homeless youth of the city.

Unfortunately, Chicago has no shortage of homeless youth and no abundance of places to help them. Last year’s annual homeless census for the city found that there are 500 homeless individuals ages 16 to 24 living in shelters or on the street on any given day. When you add in the youth who are doubled up or “couch-surfing” in other people’s homes, that number grows closer to 2,000. Yet, there are few organizations specifically working with the age group.

CHIL will start by offering drop-in services, such as breakfast and lunch, showers, laundry, lockers for safe storage of personal belongings, crisis care, case management and a computer lab, and a safe daytime space when overnight shelters close in the morning for young people age 18-24. Many collaborative support services will be available onsite as well, including employment skills and substance abuse treatment. Later this year, CHIL hopes to add 20 beds for interim overnight shelter, and up to 60 beds of transitional housing down the road.

JT managed all logistics for the official opening event, developed targeted messaging and secured a wide-range of media stories, including a piece in Sunday’s Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.

Those in attendance included the City of Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Department of Family and Support Services Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler, Alderman Brian Hopkins of the City’s 2nd Ward, President and CEO of Covenant House International Kevin Ryan and Executive Director of Covenant House Illinois Joseph Mole, as well as board members, donors and leaders from similar and partner organizations.