A Breath of Stability: Home at Nicollet Square

Dylan Novacek February 28, 2020

Written by Dylan Novacek, Content Specialist. Featuring artwork by Clifton.

“Walking the streets homeless with nothing but my backpack, I kept wondering if this would get any better. How am I going to be better than this? Where is my door?”

Describing himself as a person of curious ways, Nicollet Square resident Clifton is a young adult with a lot to say, and even more ahead of him. Experiencing homelessness at age 18, Clifton felt lost; sleeping on trains and walking throughout downtown. It was when he became connected to resources that his life would finally see the stability he sought.

“I am looking at the light but don’t want to grab it. Everything I saw up in this road is tragic. The life I had is not balanced,” Clifton said, reciting lyrics to a song he had written. As a creator, Clifton expresses himself through music, drawing, and writing. He believes in the power of storytelling.

“Everyone’s message is important. It’s not what you do or where you come from. It’s how you start and finish,” Clifton said with the conviction of a motivational speaker. A motivation that came through the values his family instilled in him at a young age.

“As a kid doing bad in school, my mom sat me down. She said there is a road you can take when you are in a bad spot. The bare minimum. You can settle for that, or go for something better,” he said. “I hate when people say they can’t, or their limited. I say you aren’t limited until you stop breathing.”

As he began his experience with homelessness, Clifton continued to reflect on himself, and pushed himself to get back on his feet. It was when he became connected to YouthLink, a program that gives resources to at-risk youth, that he started making steps towards stability.

“I went there not really knowing if it was going to help. People told me it was the best place to go. I went and was placed at a shelter called Avenues. It’s a key place where my life began to jump. I started my music there and connected with brothers going through the same thing.”

“It took me to a spot where I can find a place called home. I knew that everyone in the building wants to see a better day in my future. They got you on your feet. It is the best thing I ever walked into.” Following his stay at Avenues, he found himself building a resume, and finding housing Nicollet Square.

Through Beacon’s vision of all people having a home, youth like Clifton can assemble a life they can be proud of. With support on rent, case managers, and a community of residents, Nicollet Square provides resources for growth and stability. These critical resources cost $1,000 each month for people like Clifton, so that he can continue to live his passions in a safe, stable home.

“Nicollet Square gave me hope. It allowed me to breathe a little easier.”

Thanks to efforts to create supportive housing, residents such as Clifton can change their lives. Beacon proudly owns three apartments for youth housing, Nicollet Square, Prior Crossing, and 66 West in Edina. Building these unique homes with services for youth takes $15,000 before these homes are even built to secure funding so that all residents like Clifton can breath easier. Beacon is grateful that our donors have made this commitment to community, but we know that there are still too many people experiencing housing instability.

“I call this chapter in my life ‘Reassurance of the Truth’. I want to tell youth that it does get hard. There are hard days. But if you give yourself the effort and time, you will see a brighter and better day.”

There are still many people throughout the Twin Cities who desperately need access to these services. We believe that all people can have a balanced life like Clifton when connected to the right resources.

Everyone is worthy of building the life they want. For Clifton, he keeps a comfortable, clean apartment. Complete with his favorite blanket on his wall to recollect himself at the end of the day.

Clifton smiles as he looks ahead to the future. “I want to be able to help the next person be better, and make sure they have a home. Home is,” Clifton takes a rare pause. “For me, home is peace.”

Do you believe in the gift of home? Learn more on how you can provide support to those in need.