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COVID-19 at Covenant House

Covenant House is open for youth facing homelessness 24/7.

While the rest of the country closed under threat of coronavirus, the doors at Covenant House remained open for young people in need of shelter and safety. 

Now, more than ever, housing is healthcare. And more than 2,000 young people will find housing, safety, and care under a Covenant House roof each night.

How does COVID-19 crisis affect youth facing homelessness?

People facing homelessness are more susceptible to the coronavirus, and they are also likely to get much sicker or die than people who are stably housed. One doctor said the coronavirus has a transmission rate above 80% in households, adding that homeless shelters are like “giant households,” which means that if a resident is infected, the virus is likely to spread quickly to others.

Youth facing homelessness confront many of the same adversities as adults, but they are still developing physically, cognitively, psychologically, and emotionally, and the risks and trauma can have long-lasting effects. They often lack health insurance, so these problems go unchecked, medication is beyond their reach, and even a minor untreated infection can morph into a major health emergency. They have to prioritize survival above all else: nutrition is not top of mind and they eat when, where and what they can. 

What has this crisis meant for Covenant House?

We are focused on ensuring that the youth in our care are safe and secure, and have implemented protocols to care for youth experiencing symptoms. These include establishing quarantine spaces, revising our intake process with guidance from the CDC, ensuring a safe distance between beds, more frequently disinfecting common areas, distributing cleaning and hygiene supplies to youth and staff, a temporary suspension of all visitors, and an emergency staffing protocol to ensure coverage while keeping our team safe.

Several of our Houses have on-site health clinics, which are equipped to assess and/or test symptomatic youth as a first action before sending them to the local ER and even administer the vaccine where and when it's available.

We continue to provide as much on-site youth programming as possible for young people who are sheltering in place, including additional mental health programming for those experiencing heightened anxiety as a consequence of the outbreak.

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How can you help?

Every dollar you raise through Sleep Out will help Covenant House meet their immediate needs during the COVID-19 emergency.

With so many youth in our building 24/7, we are seeing increased costs in food and staffing, in addition to the increased expenses associated with the extensive emergency preparedness measures now in place. Covenant House is primarily funded by donations, and so we are also experiencing a decline in revenue as fundraising events are cancelled.

Fundraising during a pandemic isn't easy, but it is powerful. With your grassroots efforts through Sleep Out, you can have an impact beyond your individual capacity. We have updated our fundraising toolkit to help you with what to say, how to say it, and who to say it to:


Sleep Out has never been a more powerful way to advocate for young people in crisis. Join the movement from home, as a family, team, or on your own, and raise critical funds that will be put to immediate use.

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