By Bernie Tafoya

CHICAGO (CBS) — Tuesday was the grand opening for an agency that provides support services for young homeless people in Chicago.

Covenant House Illinois, located in the Gold Coast neighborhood, will provide a place to stop during the day for people between the ages of 18 and 24, Tuesday through Saturday. They’ll be able to take showers, do their laundry, have breakfast and lunch, and receive job counseling and training. Substance abuse treatment will also be provided along with health services.

“I personally can’t think of better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to open a space where we are welcoming homeless youth with absolute acceptance and unconditional love,” says Joseph Mole, executive director of Covenant House Illinois.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel told Covenant House executives prior to the ribbon-cutting that, “The good news is that you want to expand here, the bad news is there’ll be an insatiable need.”

The city estimates there are 500 homeless young people on any given night.

Mole says those individuals may have been kicked out of their homes, escaped from abusive home situations or aged out of foster care.

Half a block from the CTA Red Line, Covenant House is conveniently located to serve those from all over the city. Furthermore, they can provide services for 30 young people a day.

“We are giving the love, the support, walking alongside kids so that their light comes back on,” Mole said. “And, by the time they leave us, they’re shining brightly again and they’re doing the things they dreamed of doing.”

Later this year, he says the organization plans to open up 20 interim beds for homeless youth. Three years from now, the group hopes to have transitional housing for 40 young people.

“The City and our partners at Covenant House will not give up on our commitment to providing every child in the City of Chicago with shelter, support and care they need,” Mayor Emanuel said.

Covenant House Illinois is the provider’s first new shelter in more than a decade and is the 30th location for the group.

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