Bon Jovi dedicates housingMayor Michael Nutter joined Jon Bon Jovi and formerly homeless youth in a special ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday for the new Covenant House Rights of Passage apartments in Philadelphia.

“The program not only will provide a safe place for homeless youth, but also provides skills and experiences needed to become independent and responsible adults,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. “The city is proud to be part of such an important and unique program.”

Believing all youth have the right to pass into adulthood without facing abuse or homeless, the group’s new housing development includes outdoor recreational space, computer lab, and laundry facilities. Located in the Kensington section of the city, it provides temporary housing for 20 homeless youths under the age of 21 in ten two-bedroom units.

“Today is a celebration and a victory over the issues that forced them into homelessness and economic despair,” said Jon Bon Jovi. “Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships like this, we can all support innovative community efforts to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.”

Since 1999 Covenant House has been providing crisis shelter services to kids suffering on the street — more than 500 every year — but with limited resources for transitioning them to independence. This expanded Rights of Passage program provides the transitional housing, the final piece of Covenant House’s continuum of care that provides youth with both the joy of independence and the stability of a safety net.

“This is a dream come true for our kids, a chance to have a place to live and work and grow and build new futures for themselves after a tough start in life,” said Covenant House President Kevin Ryan. “We are here today because of the amazing support we have received from Jon Bon Jovi and his Soul Foundation, from Mayor Nutter and his staff, and many others. In the midst of such difficult economic times, today is a great example of what we can accomplish together.”

The Rights of Passage Program requires all residents to be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week, participate in life skills classes, tend to daily chores, complete three or more hours of community service each month, and pay rent. Aftercare is also provided to graduates of the program.

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