Speakers at the ceremony included Cordella Hill, Executive Director of Covenant House Pennsylvania, Deborah McColloch, Director of the Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), and Emily Riley, Executive Vice President of the Connelly Foundation. Also present at the groundbreaking were Mimi Box and Heather Poole, JBJ Soul Foundation, and Kim Flaville, Connelly Foundation, as well as representatives of other partners and contractors who have been involved in the development of this project.
The development will consist of 10 two-bedroom units of affordable housing. All units 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.”
“Jon Bon Jovi and I visited a youth shelter in Nashville, TN while he was visiting there while on tour. Talking to the youth there made us aware of the many obstacles they encounter in trying to get into safe and affordable housing. Philadelphia’s estimate of the number of teens who are living in highly mobile situations is staggering. We are glad we are now able to be part of the solution for this youth population”, said Mimi Box, Executive Director, Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.
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.”
About Covenant House
Since 1999 Covenant House has been providing faith-based services to children suffering on the street. They are dedicated to providing youth with unconditional love and absolute respect. Covenant House works to protect and safeguard children everywhere. For more information, please visit their website: www.covenanthousepa.org