Healing & Home

Dylan Novacek November 13, 2020

The Impact of ‘Housing First’ by Dylan Novacek, Content Specialist

The journey to stability doesn’t end after finding housing. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

“Home is like a church,” a Beacon resident shared. “It’s my comfort zone. When I come home from seeing the violence and hardship outside these walls, I pray really hard.”

AmericanHousewebAfter struggling with addiction, this resident found themselves living in the tent city encampments we are all but too familiar with. They would soon find a safe landing at Beacon’s American House, one of our supportive homes created under the ‘Housing First’ model.

Through the ‘Housing First’ model, there is a focus on prioritizing the reduction of harm, and meeting people where they are at. Too often, there is judgement for people who need support. Through meeting them where they are at, and prioritizing getting them into housing before anything else, more people being forgotten by the system can enter into housing.

“It’s so worth the investment and believing in people,” exclaimed Senior Congregational Organizer Rev. Emily Goldthwaite Fries. “Finding a home that is the right fit for people going through trauma is so important. The more we can supply and reduce this weight goes a long way in our resident’s recovery.”

At Beacon, we aim to provide a variety of homes to best fit the needs of the people we serve. Homes like American House, Kimball Court, and our upcoming homes at Bimosedaa, are operated under the ‘Housing First’ model. Much of what makes these homes unique comes from what they have in common with our other Beacon homes: excellent staff, a feeling of community, and onsite supportive services that enable residents coming from traumatic experiences and addiction to start on a path to stability.

“Now that I am in a stable home, I want to work to make sure my neighbors get the support they need,” our resident said with passion and conviction. “When I had nothing I would give as much as I could. I have more to offer now. I always carry supplies in my trunk and work on neighborhood outreach.”

This work is important to our residents, as well as our collaborative at large. Far too many of our neighbors are dealing with the double pressures of addiction and homelessness. And far too many of our neighbors are living in our local tent city encampments (pictured left).

“Through our encampment research team, we heard a strong desire for more diverse housing options,” Emily said. “We heard from many community leaders supporting encampments that the Housing First model is needed, and we need a lot more of it.”

Understanding the harsh reality of this work is important for all of us in our shared Beacon mission. Through our encampment research team, we’ve found that 45% of people living in encampments are Native American, with the other highest population being African Americans. And many of their needs aren’t being met.

Read more about Beacon’s encampment research team. 

“Housing First gets people into a home before anything else,” Emily continued. “Street outreach, voluntary services, and someone walking with people in their journey makes a world of difference in our work to see that all people have a home.”

We are calling on our community to make stronger investments in home and we know our collaborative can help answer the call. Together we aim to renovate and expand Kimball Court, adding 22 new homes in St. Paul. Additionally, we are creating 48 homes at Bimosedda, which is soon to begin construction in downtown Minneapolis.

In order to create new homes, it will take fundraising from our community. As the 48 homes at Bimosedaa move toward closing, we’re working hard fundraising the “Seeds” for each home in preparation for move-in. We have 46 homes to go at $15,000 each.

“Even through all the bad times, there is a better way,” our resident reflected, thinking about the healing power of their home. “There is nothing better than rejuvenation and starting a better life. You start over and keep going from there.”

For many, that better life begins with access to a stable, affordable home. Join us in creating new homes at Bimosedaa by attending Beacon Now. Throughout November, we will be covering the basics of how Bimosedaa will become a reality. Invite a friend and click here to learn more.