‘As soon as I walked in, it changed my whole life': Covenant House Changing Lives

An estimated 6,000 young people are homeless in LA county, with many aging out of the foster care system at age 18 or running away from abusive environments.

Covenant House in Los Angeles is dedicated to helping people from 18 to 24 who don't have anywhere else to go.

"It's so crazy it's like a movie," said Derrick Cooney, a Covenant House resident. "As soon as I walked in, it changed my whole life."

Covenant House provides sanctuary and support to those in need.

"When I got here, I wasn't able to sleep because I was always worried something would happen," said Anthony Solis, a Covenant House alum. "I literally had no shoes really, no clothes and just horrible things happen to you when you are on the street. I went [to Covenant House] because I really had nowhere else to go."

The residents of Covenant House have specific steps to go through before they graduate and achieve full independence. In the first step, safe haven, residents spend a few months in a dorm-like setting with prepared meals, healthcare at an onsite clinic, mental health counseling and their own case manager.

"92 percent of young people exit our programs and live independently, permanently, so we know that it works," said Amanda Sattler, Covenant House Development and Communications. " We know if you intervene at this age group you can truly cut of the cycle of chronic homelessness. "

The next step, rites of passage, gives residents more independence as they live in a different facilities with a communal kitchen, life skills classes, and career counseling. Residents can live there for up to two years.

"It showed me that the vision I had for a normal life wasn't too far away," Solis said. "Instead of begging for money or eating from a trash can, I could go in the fridge or cook on the stove".

Solis graduated more than 20 years ago with over $25,000 in savings and a job at Paramount Pictures.

Cooney is still in the program with his dream job of working with animals and is very optimstic about the future.

"They helped me believe myself and believe that I am someone," Cooney said. "So now any challenge ahead of me, I feel like I can ace it."

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