YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – A homeless youth center opened this week at 307 East King Street.
The facility is called Covenant House. It provides a temporary shelter where homeless youth can get back on their feet and get set up for success.
Case workers will work one-on-one with youth in need to help them meet personal goals and move toward independence.
“For a homeless youth, this may be a service that actually keeps them alive,” Associate Executive Director Hugh Organ said.
Covenant House is the largest privately funded agency providing services for runaway homeless and traffic youth in the country.
“When a young person comes in, it’s, ‘Hi, my name is Hugh. Welcome to Covenant House. Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?’,” Organ said.
They provide case management services to anyone under the age of 21.
“We don’t want them to come in here five days a week and look for us to hold their hands,” Sara Keister, the program coordinator, said.
York County Human Services in February counted 33 youth who were homeless, but they say the number doesn’t tell the whole story. They said homeless youth are an “invisible” population.
“Typically, when we think of homeless, you’re thinking of somebody with a sign panhandling a corner. That’s not typically a youth,” Organ said. “Youth homelessness looks like kids hopping from couch to couch. They may be living in an abandoned house.”
The center will help meet basic needs, whether that’s providing food, clothing, a shower, or a computer to help complete homework or find a job.
“We teach kids to fish, we don’t do the work for them,” Organ said. “You have to do the work because we know how to do those things. These are skills our youth need to learn.”
Right now, the facility is only a drop-in center, but they hope to add beds and become a residential shelter sometime next year.