A sleek $10.7 million apartment building for homeless teens and young adults has opened in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood, with 44 studio apartments and in-house support services for people ages 17 to 22.
Prior Crossing was built by a coalition of nonprofits, churches and government partners that coordinated and paid for the building and services. It’s the latest in a series of apartment projects in the Twin Cities aimed at helping homeless teens and young adults who are pushed out of the nest with little support, skills or resources.
According to a 2015 Wilder Research study, unaccompanied youth up to the age of 24 account for 16 percent of the state’s homeless population.
More than 200 such youth already have applied for one of Prior Crossing’s fully furnished apartments, which include private kitchens and bathrooms. Other amenities include a fitness room, computer lab, community kitchen and living room, an outdoor basketball court and courtyard.
A pair of on-site case managers and an employment specialist will be stationed there to help residents. The building is alcohol-free and there are limits on guests.
Residents can stay as long as they need, but the goal is to help them develop life and career skills and move on.
“At this age, young people can benefit from a supportive model where they not only have stable housing, but a support system of peers and others who are invested in their success,” said Janayah Bagurusi, a program manager with the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. “The model also helps youth learn how to be responsible with a space and lease of their own. With these pieces in place, youth have more opportunities to pursue education, employment and other life goals.
“I don’t think we can underestimate the value of having a place to call home.”
Derrick Wade was one of the first residents to move in this fall. It’s the 22-year-old’s first apartment. He describes his former living situation as “nowhere in particular,” explaining that he’d stay with friends, often sleeping on the floor.
When he found out he’d been approved for a new place, “I was excited. It was a change of scenery,” said Wade, who works as a telemarketer.
Coleton Sousa, 20, had been staying at the Dorothy Day homeless shelter in downtown St. Paul before moving into Prior Crossing in September. Having a home helped him land a job at a McDonald’s.
“When I was homeless, I was super stressed and depressed. It was the crappiest time in my life,” Sousa said. “The rules are really strict, but I am grateful.”
Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative worked with the Wilder Foundation, House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul and other local congregations to complete the project. State tax credits, the city of St. Paul and the Metropolitan Council helped pay for the project.