Left to right: Various CHT Board Members, City officials, Executive Director Leslie Bourne, Mayor Sylvester Turner. Mayor Sylvester Turner. Leslie Bourne, Executive Director of Covenant House. Currently the empty lot where the old campus stood. The new campus willbe completed by 2024.

By: Cristina Contreras-Social Concerns Office

“I bound myself by oath, I made a covenant with you. . . and you became Mine.”
Ezekiel 16:8

Covenant House Texas (CHT) is a beacon of hope for individuals aged 18-24. Their mission isto provide homeless youth a safe haven, absolute respect, unconditional love, and a path to lastingindependence. Since opening its doors in Texas 40 years ago, CHT has grown to offer an extensivelist of services, including providing shelter, mental health and substance abuse counseling,educational and vocational training, transitional and permanent living programs, street outreach and prevention, pastoral ministry, and parenting classes.

I visited the CHT as part of research into Houston organizations seeking to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults. The organization’s good standing in the communitywas evident during a groundbreaking ceremony this past March. It was an event filled with manysupporters and much excitement. CHT has worked towards a new campus for several years, with an ongoing capital campaign of $51M. In March, they secured $42M for the new campus.

Mayor Turner was one of the speakers at the event. He shared that Houston is one of the top two cities in the world responding to homelessness. Homelessness among Houston youth hasdecreased by 60% since 2011. Unsurprisingly, the City of Houston is the most significant contributor to the capital campaign, with $6.7M donated. Harris County is just a little behind, with $4.1M donated. Over 100 private donors and foundations raised the remaining $31M.

CHT has much support because those involved witness these resources’ impact in breaking the cycle of poverty and preventing human trafficking among vulnerable youth. Board member, John C. Sarvadi, stated, “The mission is not simple, but it is straightforward. Providing a safe space forrest is the core of what the organization offers, along with a caring environment with a devoted staff, some of whom have been with CHT for over 20 years.” CHT is at capacity most nights,with a waitlist of around 40 to 45 youths. This partly propelled CHT to re-building its campus,which will house 50% more youth than its previous one. The building will stand on the same lot in the Montrose area. They hope to move back in by the end of 2024.

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