Nicollet Square

The goal of Nicollet Square is to build a supportive environment where young adults (ages 16-21) who have experienced homelessness or been in the foster care system can learn the life skills and work ethic that teens in more traditional home environments learn from their families. Regardless of their skill level, developmental ability, or mental health status, these young people will have the opportunity to grow to their greatest potential at Nicollet Square.

Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation, in collaboration with Plymouth Congregational Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church, developed Nicollet Square in 2010. Creating supportive housing and supported employment opportunities for homeless youth are two of the key strategies in Heading Home Hennepin.  Nicollet Square addresses these needs in a mixed use housing development that offers onsite comprehensive services provided through collaboration with YouthLink and HIRED, a supported employment program with vocational counseling and training. Nicollet Square is also breaking ground in addressing the needs of homeless and at-risk youth in many other ways: Transition from Foster Care.

Nicollet Square is one of the first supportive housing programs specifically designed to meet the requirements of the new federal Fostering Connections legislation. The legislation requires foster care youth to be provided with transitional services from 18-21 years old.  Flat Rent Structure. Another Nicollet Square innovation is the institution of a “flat rent.” Initially, this “flat rent” is $205 a month for the first two years of residency, $305 for the third year, and $410 for all years after that. Since almost all existing homeless programs are designed under HUD rules which require that residents pay 30% of income for rent, there has been very little experimentation on the impact of different rent structures on successful outcomes in homeless housing.  There is some belief that this rent subsidy structure creates a disincentive to work, since a resident who has no job pays no rent and conversely, a resident who gets a job or a pay increase incurs a rent increase.  Because our rent subsidy will be provided by Minnesota Housing, we have the opportunity to test a different rent model for this population. Employment: In our first nine months, 75 percent of residents are working, either through a subsidized job program or market rate jobs.

Collaboration. Nicollet Square has taken an innovative collaborative approach to delivery of services to youth tenants. Rather than creating services that would duplicate what already exists in the community, we made a significant commitment to collaborate with established service partners. We have negotiated agreements with YouthLink to provide social services support and HIRED to provide the employment related support and programming.

Referrals come from the Hennepin County Homeless Prevention Assistance Program case managers and homeless youth service providers, such as Streetworks Collaborative, Project Offstreets, Avenues for Homeless Youth, District 202, and the Bridge for Runaway Youth.  Youthlink, the on-site service provider, operates Project Offstreets and provides services for two other youth housing projects.  Learn more aobut the project.

The Nicollet Square Advisory Group is a collaboration of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association and Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation to facilitate communication between all the service partners at Nicollet Square, the residents, and the neighborhood. the goals are twofold:

1) To help the residents of Nicollet Square feel welcomed into the neighborhood, build their connections with caring adults, and learn how they can become active contributing members of the community.

2) To facilitate connections between residents and Kingfield neighbors to help the community provide appropriate support and lend their expertise to the project’s success.

Read the Community Benefits Agreement here: CBA Nicollet Square Final

Youth Learn about homelessness at Night on the Street 2012! Website:

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