Organization helping homeless youth coming to York City

David Weissman

A Philadelphia organization that aids runaway, homeless and trafficked youth will soon set up a walk-in center in York City.

Covenant House of Pennsylvania, which has been operating out of Philadelphia since 1999, according to its website, is in the process of moving into a building owned by Bell Socialization Services, at 311 E. King St.

Ivan Hileman, Bell Socialization's executive director, said the building, which used to house female offenders, has been vacant since it was donated to the company.

Covenant House of Pennsylvania

According to its website, Covenant House aspires to serve youth "with unconditional love and absolute respect" by focusing on building the seven C's: competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.

Representatives of the organization did not respond to a voicemail seeking more information on their program.

Terry Clark, the county's Children, Youth and Families director, introduced the program to county commissioners Wednesday because Covenant House will be funded through that department.

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Clark said the state has agreed to cover 100 percent of the program's costs with an initial $500,000 award. The commissioners unanimously approved the one-year contract that will pay the organization approximately $23,500 per month.

Covenant House will primarily link homeless youth to other resources throughout the county to ensure they receive adequate shelter, nourishment and medical care, Clark said.

Hileman said the organization is still "a few months out" from opening its drop-in center, but long-term growth plans include them moving into a second building owned by Bell Socialization Services.

Clark told the county commissioners that Covenant House employees would, once settled in with the center, go out into the city to better determine the needs of the county's homeless population.

President Commissioner Susan Byrnes called the program "a big win for the county."

Covenant House is an international organization headquartered in New York that operates 18 national branches and four more in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.