Deborah McColloch, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) joined Cordella Hill, executive director of Covenant House Pennsylvania and Emily Riley, executive vice president of the Connelly Foundation in breaking ground for Rights of Passage, a transitional living program for homeless youth. This is Covenant House’s most recent initiative and will provide temporary housing for 20 homeless youths under the age of 21.
Funding for this project includes $400,000 from the City of Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund; $600,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and distributed by OHCD, as well as large grants from Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, The Connelly Foundation, the Horn Charitable Trust, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and over $500,000 from individual supporters of Covenant House.
The development will consist of 10 two-bedroom units of affordable homes. All homes will contain a shared kitchen, bathroom and living area. Additionally, plans include outdoor recreational space, a lounge, laundry facilities and offices for program support staff.
The Rights of Passage homes are a direct response to the growing need for transitional housing for young adults in Philadelphia. Covenant House alone serves more than 500 young people every year through its Crisis Shelter, with limited resources for transitioning them to independence. This expanded Rights of Passage program is the final piece of Covenant House’s continuum of care that provides youth with both the joy of independence and the stability of a safety net.
“We are so excited to finally have this project underway,” said Hill. “What started as a dream eight years ago is finally becoming a reality. This is a truly monumental day for homeless youth in Philadelphia.”
“The demand for special-needs housing in Philadelphia is high,” said McColloch. “OHCD is pleased to help provide these young adults with safe and affordable housing.”
Councilman Frank DiCicco, who strongly supported the development but was unable to attend the event, added, “The First District welcomes such a unique and necessary housing opportunity. Homeless youth in Philadelphia can rely on the care and expertise of this transitional housing team.”
The Rights of Passage Program requires all residents to be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week, participate in life skills classes, attend to daily chores, complete three or more hours of community service each month and pay rent. After care is also provided to recent graduates.
“This program provides a well-rounded education that will continue to serve residents long after they leave,” said Hill. “We are grateful to our funding and development partners for helping us to create our vision.”