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CHICAGO — For the last three years, Covenant House Illinois has provided safety and shelter for hundreds of homeless teens. But the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the shelter to capacity.

As many as 3,000 young people in Chicago don’t have a place to rest their heads at night.

For the last few years, nearly 600 homeless teens have found shelter behind the revolving door at Covenant House Illinois at 30 West Chicago Avenue.

“These are individuals who have aged out of the foster care system, we have youth who have been trafficked. We have individuals who have lost their only surviving parent,” said Cheryl Hamilton-Hill, Covenant House Illinois.

Covenant House is working to get as many people off the street as possible, while maintaining space for new residents at the same time.

Today, the pandemic is testing and pushing the shelter to capacity. 

“Our numbers have increased by about 50%. It really has become a challenge because places where youth typically hang out for a little bit of respite are no longer available,” said Hamilton-Hill.

The shelter isn’t very large, but they’re now using every corner they have.

“By utilizing hallways, and extra offices we have been able to accommodate everyone,” said Hamilton-Hill. “It isn’t an ideal situation, but we’re not going to put anyone out on the street.”

The teens are given medical care, food, basic necessities and workforce training.

“It’s one thing to, during COVID-19, to say ‘shelter in place,’ but when you don’t have place that makes it extremely difficult. We don’t want to turn anyone away,” said Hamilton-Hill.

Volunteers and support will be critical for Covenant House in the weeks ahead. Through a partnership with Walgreen’s Red Nose Day, the shelter hopes people will continue to find fun in purchasing the noses that support serious work.

Individuals can buy the noses at any Walgreen’s or purchase a digital one here.

The money raised funds programs like Covenant House that keep young people facing poverty safe.