The Issues

Learn about the issues—from mental health to human trafficking—that impact and drive youth homelessness.

Mental Health & Wellness

Studies show that depression, anxiety, substance use, and post-traumatic stress disorder are among the most common mental health issues young people facing homelessness experience. 

Covenant House provides sanctuary and immediate & ongoing care for our youths’ mental health needs. Our trauma-informed, resilience-focused programing acknowledges the high-stress lives our children and youth have experienced. We’ve designed our programs to help them deal with the effects of homelessness as they advance toward a better future. 

Discrimination & Hardships Faced by the LGBTQ+ Community

Youth who come to Covenant House program do so bearing complex histories of trauma. LGBTQ+ youth are further traumatized by rejection they may have experienced in their families, schools, and communities due to their gender identity or sexual orientation.

LGBTQ+ youth face greater risk of homelessness than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. They also face higher levels of hardship than other youth living homeless. Covenant House offers all youth a safe place to live and heal. We help our young people develop a lifelong foundation of self-love and self-respect.

Child Welfare Services & the Foster Care System

By starting where the foster care system left off, Covenant House works to uplift youth using a trauma-informed, resilience-focused approach.

Whether they have aged out of foster care or received a poor placement, foster care involved youth have often experienced substantial trauma. On top of that, youth that age out of the system tend to experience higher rates of unemployment, involvement in the criminal justice system, and poverty as compared to individuals their age that are not involved in the child welfare system.

Human Trafficking

Every year, traffickers generate more than $150 billion in profits by exploiting millions of people worldwide. This criminal industry targets children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Because so many young trafficking survivors face homelessness before being trafficked, they often have no place to go after escaping these circumstances. Covenant House provides refuge for these children and youth, offering a complete approach that includes direct care, advocacy, and research, to ensure we can best serve young survivors.

Hardships Faced by Pregnant & Parenting Youth

About 44% of young women and 18% of young men, ages 18-25, who experience homelessness report being a parent or pregnant. Here at Covenant House New Orleans, about 33% of our residents are mothers.

Our Two-Gen Program, created for young families, has served 73 parents and 109 children facing homelessness and/or human trafficking in the last year. 

Lack of Access to Fair & Affordable Housing

Affordable housing is increasingly hard to come by—especially for young people just starting out in life and those facing disproportionate barriers due to the income disparity divide. Today, rising rents and stagnant or declining wages are obliging more people to spend a large portion of their income on housing, putting increasing numbers of people at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Systemic Racism

CHNO acknowledges the harm caused by systemic racism. Systemic racism impacts the education, career paths, and opportunities open to people of color.

Pathways to youth homelessness that include problematic foster placements or aging out of foster care, poverty and economic disadvantage, lack of access to housing, uncompleted high school education, and criminal justice involvement, prejudice facing communities of color, particularly Black communities, reveal the ongoing harm caused by systemic racism.

Sexual Violence

Covenant House New Orleans recognizes the increased risk that those in vulnerable populations face for sexual violence.

Providing access to safe and affordable housing can help be a protective factor against sexual violence in vulnerable communities, while also mitigating rates of homelessness. David Bottner, CEO of the New Orleans Mission, states that “Of the homeless women in New Orleans, 92 percent have been abused sexually or physically.”