Staff at Covenant House Texas race against the clock to get at-risk young people into a shelter or housing. They know that the longer Houston’s youth experience homelessness, the more likely they could become victims of trafficking.
Unfortunately, the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the need for housing for homeless youth, and the nonprofit would require a 50% increase in shelter beds to meet the growing demand.
Bank of Texas Houston Region CEO Randy Walker is determined to get those extra beds. As a Covenant House Texas board member for 20 years, Walker is helping raise $48 million for a capital campaign. Once the new campus is built, it will give more young people a safe place to sleep and receive holistic care.
"Young people who experience homelessness are extremely vulnerable," Walker said. "The quicker we can get them off the street, the better. Right now, there is a bed shortage in Houston. I hear all these horrible stories from these young people, and I feel like it's my job to help."
Providing a continuum of care to homeless young adults
Founded in 1983, Covenant House Texas is committed to giving homeless young adults ages 18 to 24 a safe haven, absolute respect, unconditional love and a path to lasting independence.
In addition to emergency shelter and transitional housing, Covenant House also provides career services and job training; case management; opportunities to complete their education, including college and life skills; and access to medical care, substance use treatment, and mental health counseling.
"It's not just about a place to sleep at night. Covenant House offers wrap-around services to help the whole person," Walker said. "Things that we take for granted like having a driver's license, a birth certificate or a phone; if you don't have those, getting a job is almost impossible. Covenant House helps its residents get those items. They are helping break the cycle of homelessness and helping these young people lead productive lives."
Executives sleep out in solidarity
In addition to his board service and capital campaign fundraising, Walker has participated in the Covenant House Executive Sleep Out for the past 10 years. The experiential event challenges business executives and community leaders to sleep outside for one night in a show of support for homeless youth. "It is an emotional and somewhat life-changing experience for many participants," said Covenant House Texas Executive Director Leslie Bourne.
"The Bank of Texas and Randy's commitment to our mission and our youth makes us stronger in the community," Bourne said. "His thoughtful guidance and expertise through the years are crucial to our success and strong reputation in the Houston community."
Learn more about community involvement in the Bank of Texas Community Report.