Justice, Peace, and Housing

Dylan Novacek July 17, 2020

Written by Dylan Novacek, Content Specialist

“Only justice will bring peace. Justice for housing is the first step.”

Living in the epicenter of protests for George Floyd, Nicollet Square resident Jailah is a proud voice for equality. Marching for the first time, she believes in care and love for her community. Jailah even had the opportunity to share her story on national news.

“Watching the George Floyd video made me uncomfortable. I was disgusted. For me to see that happened down the street from my home, I was eager and ready to go,” she shared in an NBC News video. “This is what I believe in.”

Describing herself as a motivator, mentor and leader, Jailah has ambitions to take care of those living in unstable situations. Through the support she experiences at Nicollet Square, one of three youth supportive housing units from Beacon, she understands the importance of housing.

“For me, home is not a place. It’s a feeling,” she said with confidence. “I came to Nicollet Square seeking comfort and safety. Living here has helped me grow and opened my eyes to building my future.”

Addressing the challenges that come from transitioning into youth supportive housing, Jailah is also able to recognize the many successes she has experienced in her one of year living at Nicollet Square. Through on-site services, Jailah has found it easier to work on herself and achieve her goals.

“Supportive housing changes lives. If you are coming from chronic homelessness, there is so much you are unable to do on your own,” she exclaimed, reflecting on the experiences that many without a stable home face. “If it wasn’t for my case manager, I would be so lost on how to get insurance or apply for unemployment. I know that I don’t have to do this stuff on my own.”

It takes at least $1,000 per person monthly to provide onsite services in Beacon homes. There are youth just like Jailah struggling to find stability. The unfortunate reality is there simply isn’t enough housing to support our at-risk youth.

“People my age experiencing homelessness face so many injustices,” she said with passion. “If you’ve found yourself without a home after being emancipated, facing abuse, or otherwise you’d find that there are few options. Places like Nicollet Square are here to help us build the life we’ve always dreamt of.”

For Jailah, that life includes supporting those in unstable situations, and speaking out against injustice.

“We need to show that everyone is worthy of having a home. We all make mistakes in life, but one mistake should not define who you are.” Jailah took a rare pause. “Housing equals social justice. People of color have a much harder time finding stable housing.”

There are a disproportionate number of roadblocks that prevent people of color from being able to access stable housing. From the lack of credit, an inability to make first and last month’s rent, or being locked out of earning wealth, it’s clear to Jailah how we solve this problem.

“We can improve our system by creating more housing!”

As Beacon aims to build more homes and expand some of our current buildings, we believe the gift of affordable housing benefits every community. As an advocate for home, and someone who proudly marched for George Floyd, Jailah is proud of express her voice for social justice.

“Our city cares about the people who live here. We continue to march and to put our voices out there. Together we have power, and we’re just getting started. I just hope people keep listening. All lives cannot matter until Black lives matter. I want all people to experience the same stability I do.”

To make change, we must start with our communities. As a believer in our shared Beacon mission, Jailah believes in the power of collaboration.

“Not everyone comes from the same spot,” she insisted. “We don’t all have college degrees and a lot of us can’t make three times the rent. I believe we need more voices in this conversation. We need to honestly talk about the barriers so many of us face. Justice for housing is the first step in a larger plan for our community.”

You can make positive change in your community too! Click here to support our work and learn what Beacon is doing to see that all people have a home.