In the late 1960s, a Franciscan priest, the Rev. Bruce Ritter, made a life-changing decision to move into a dilapidated tenement building in New York City's East Village and, along with a handful of friends, former students, and neighbors, begin to serve the city's poor.
A few years later, in 1972, Covenant House was officially incorporated, with its first intake center established at 504 LaGuardia Place in New York City.
Now an established nonprofit, Covenant House began fundraising, using the monies to shelter homeless kids in lower Manhattan and on Staten Island. In 1976, Father Ritter announced plans to create a multiservice center near the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Covenant House then acquired a group of buildings on West 44th Street and moved its administrative offices to the new location.
Throughout the late 1970s, Covenant House continued to expand its social service programs in New York City and by 1980 was ready to branch out to other places. For the next two decades, Covenant House grew at an exhilarating pace under the leadership of Sister Mary Rose McGready (1990-2003) and Sister Tricia Cruise (2003-2008), opening Crisis Centers in 20 more cities in the United States, Central America, and Canada.
Currently under the leadership of Kevin Ryan, Covenant House International reaches more than 80,000 young people who experience homelessness each year in six countries across North and Central America, giving them the love and support they need to find their way off of the streets.
In New York, we provide shelter and comprehensive services to close to 250 young people each day, and 1,600 each year. Sister Nancy Downing assumed the position of Executive Director in December of 2016.