ATLANTA — It can be hard to find affordable housing in Atlanta, especially for teens and young adults just trying to make ends meet. Among the many nonprofits working to tackle homelessness, Covenant House Georgia is hoping to provide a solution.
The current facility in Northwest Atlanta used to be an orphanage, an elementary school and psychiatric ward, according to Covenant House Georgia CEO Dr. Alieizoria Redd. Now, more than 100 teens and young adults call it home -- at least until they can get back on their feet.
"I'd say the average American is pretty close to experiencing homelessness, especially youth and the youth we see and support here," Redd said. “We do everything from street outreach to residential or housing support. We have a 90-day crisis shelter, transitional living, rapid re-housing. I mentioned the pregnant and parenting youth program. They've experienced multiple moves, multiple trauma, complex generational poverty, all sorts of social ills that make it challenging for them."
Covenant House Georgia is a nonprofit that supports people ages 16-24 experiencing homelessness and who are at risk of human trafficking. A pre-pandemic Georgia State University study in 2018 estimated there were nearly 3,400 young people experiencing homelessness in metro Atlanta.
Redd said up to 150 people stay at Covenant House each day, and the nonprofit gives about 1,200 people a year education and healthcare services on a $7 million annual budget. Funding sources for the nonprofit include grants, corporate donors, and individual donors.
"They just cannot afford to live in the city of Atlanta," Redd said. "Livable wages aren't in line, especially for young people, to be able to afford a decent place to live."
Redd said there were various types of housing to help people with short and long-term needs. People can go to school, work and make a living while trying to get back on their feet. Redd said young people often leave Covenant House, but they end up coming back when they run into trouble or need help.
"People see recidivism as a failure," Redd said. "We see recidivism as success, that young people have connected to our organization. They believe in our mission, they trust us and know we're going to love them unconditionally."
Redd said the stability offered at Covenant House Georgia leads to those next steps for those looking for a permanent home.
"It really takes all of us to wrap around these young people in order to support them to give them a fighting chance at self-sustainability," Redd said. “People who are experiencing homelessness or they’re being trafficked in our community, they hide in plain sight. Just be more aware in your own family environment, and really be thoughtful, non-judgmental and give that unconditional love and support to young people in the community.”
Learn more about the nonprofit and ways to help on Covenant House Georgia's website.