Introducing our San Francisco Partner: Covenant House California

Based in California and with locations in Hollywood, Oakland, and Berkeley, Covenant House California is a non-governmental organization that works to provide young people entering adulthood who have been trafficked or experience homelessness with the physical and emotional resources needed to survive and grow. As Cityface is a brand made by and for Gen Z, the physical and mental health of the youth is imperative in our team’s envisionment of a future in which young people can actively change the world for the better. By partnering with Covenant House, we hope to raise awareness about the prevalence of youth homelessness, contribute to their work, and provide our product users with opportunities to further engage with this cause. 

When looking at the statistics of youth homelessness, it is revealing of the problem as not just resulting as a lack of financial resources, but also institutionalized racism, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, the absence of support after foster care, and a lack of education. When young people become homeless, they also become more vulnerable to human trafficking as they are in a desperate situation for food and shelter. Covenant House attempts to break this dangerous cycle that young people enter once they are deprived of their basic necessities by using a strategy called the “Continuum of Care.” This method provides support to young people in every step of the process that it takes to succeed in society after getting out of homelessness and trafficking. The program includes education, job training, medical services, mental health and substance abuse counseling, and legal aid. This is crucial because many organizations fail to provide long-term support, while Covenant House works to attack the problem at the root cause and break the cycle by making sure that the young people are able to grow in a healthy and happy direction. 

Carlos Salazar is an alumni of the CHC program, joining as a college student. He was born into a verbally and physically abusive family with teenage parents who were not prepared to raise a child. When he entered college, Carlos suffered from severe depression and it became extremely difficult for him to engage with his peers and go to class. He found Covenant House online and went to the shelter located in Hollywood. Carlos says that the best part about finding the organization is that, “... it ended up giving me, that I didn’t know the first night slept there, structure and confidence...I still have a strong foundation and structure everytime that some major change happens in my life...because of what I learned at Covenant House.” Carlos’s story is unfortunately all too common. It is easy for many to take for granted the loving household we are born into or the roof over our heads or the readily available meals on the table. However, there are so many people that struggle with having those basic necessities day to day. Therefore, Covenant House is a crucial organization that will allow those in these situations to find a long-lasting way out. As Carlos explains the lesson he gained from CHC, it is clear that the organization does not just hold a temporary impact, but a lifelong one. 

A quick look at the statistics provided by CHC can be proof of the enormous impact that the NGO has on our communities. In 2019, CHC served 4,796 youth, providing them with shelter, warm food, and the Continuum of Care. In the same year, they provided over 32,000 nights of care and 121,000 meals. Like many organizations, Covenant House California has experienced significant barriers due to Covid-19, losing about 85% of their jobs and increased costs for cleaning and staffing. However, despite these challenges, CHC has continued to power through and provide the youth with the promised care as seen with meals served increasing by 40%. On November 23rd and 24th of 2020, they held a Thanksgiving Holiday Gift Drive where they had drop-off locations in the parking lot for donated gifts. On November 19, 2020, CHC held a virtual “SLEEP-OUT”  where you sleep out of your bed, such as in your kitchen or backyard, bringing people together to raise awareness about youth homelessness and also used as an event to raise funds.  Donations to the CHC play an enormous role in helping the organization stay afloat, especially during these unprecedented times. To gauge the impact of monetary donations, CHC states that $100 can provide for a night of safe shelter and three hot meals for a homeless youth. $250 will pay for 5 nights of emergency medical supplies for the frontline teams battling COVID and  $1,000 will pay for food, water, blankets and gas for the Outreach van to support 100 youth living on the street during the holidays. They pride themselves on their transparency, providing the general public with exact numbers and statistics of their revenue and budget allocation. 

With so many ways to get involved, Covenant House California offers a wide range of causes that one can find interest in and devote energy to. We hope that Cityface’s partnership with CHC can bring awareness to and help solve the urgent crisis of youth homelessness.