Considering Michigan’s alarming statistics when it comes to young adults living in poverty, CHM aims to provide services that address, not only the issue of homelessness, but, also, issues that coincide with homelessness.
Following an exhaustive needs assessment study that clearly indicated the unmet needs of Detroit and Michigan youth, Covenant House Michigan (CHM) was established in 1997.
Based on the needs analysis, as well as meetings with community leaders, it was determined that our work in Detroit should begin with services designed to prevent crises that often lead to homelessness among at-risk vulnerable youth along with offering protection against youth violence. With this goal in mind, CHM established two Community Service Centers and a Job Development Center.
In the fall of 1997, Covenant House Michigan opened its doors to Detroit’s “at-risk” youth with the opening of the East side Community Service Center. In anticipation of opening residential programs, we surveyed the community to gauge whether this should be the next phase of our evolution. In less than three years, CHM expanded to include a Street Outreach program (1997), a second Community Service Center (1998, Southwest Community Service Center), a Job Development Center (1998), and a Crisis Center (April 2000). In the fourth year of operation, the Rights of Passage transitional living program (October 2000) opened.
Due to the increase in demand for our services, in the summer of 2001, the Covenant House Michigan Board began planning for a capital campaign. The $4.975 million campaign was completed in the summer of 2005. The goals of the campaign were to build a new Crisis Center, renovate the existing Rights of Passage facility, renovate the Dining Hall/Kitchen building and provide additional operating funds for programs, assuring that quality can be maintained even when more young people are participating.
Phase I of the campaign ended with the opening of the new 45-bed Crisis Center in February 2003. The renovated Rights of Passage building, with a capacity of 30, opened in January 2004. Renovations to the Commons, which houses the Kitchen/Dining Hall, Fitness Center and Educational Wing began in February 2004 and was complete in September 2004. The Administration/Outreach/Clinic Building renovations were completed in June 2005 and were dedicated in May 2006.
On June 30, 2005 Detroit Public Schools (DPS) authorized CHM to open three charter schools in order to better serve the needs of homeless and other at-risk youth who lack a high school diploma. The three schools located on the east and southwest sides of Detroit serve youth aged 16-22 and are named Covenant House Academy. In 2013, Covenant House Academy opened in Grand Rapids. Currently, all four schools are authorized by Grand Valley University.
Although CHM’s residential programs help to prepare youth for independent living, the cost of living is hard to maintain on minimum wage salaries. Many youth do not qualify for low income and/or permanent housing because many permanent housing programs that have been established for the homeless are for those who are “chronically homeless”. In the spring of 2008, CHM developed a program to manage permanent housing opportunities for youth through apartment living. Youth are provided with services to assist in their move from Covenant House Michigan into their apartment.
From the basics of food and shelter to educational and vocational training, Covenant House Michigan is serving the needs of homeless and at-risk youth in metro Detroit. CHM offers crisis shelter, street outreach, transitional housing, job development and placement, education services, substance abuse and domestic violence prevention, crisis intervention and other services to help young people take control of their futures and shape their destinies.
CHM has come to be known by Detroit area young people as a place they can go to build a better future and be treated with respect and unconditional love. More than 60,000 young people have been served by CHM since September of 1997.