Determination and Stable Housing at Lincoln Place Helped Youth with Work, College, Car and Sobriety
Sebastian Dina knew what he wanted when he moved to Lincoln Place: His driver’s license back, to buy a car and start college. With stable housing and support from Wilder staff at Lincoln Place, a supportive housing development in Eagan for youth who have experienced homelessness, Sebastian has achieved those goals and more.
“This is a great place to live,” Sebastian says. “You just have to come in and take advantage of what it has to offer.” Lincoln Place has 24 studio apartments for young adults who have experienced homelessness. It’s a partnership between Wilder, Dakota County, and the Dakota County Community Development Agency. Wilder provides services for tenants, including staff on-site 24 hours a day and case managers who help connect youth to resources and pursue their goals.
Sebastian, a thoughtful, adaptive and motivated 22-year-old, moved to Lincoln Place in April 2018. He was in recovery from chemical dependency and had already been working for more than a year to stabilize his life. Sebastian was previously referred to Lincoln Place, but was chemically dependent at the time and did not move in. “The second time I was serious,” he says. “I kept telling myself this is an amazing opportunity. You can’t let this go.”
Step by Step, Sebastian Pursues Career and Life Goals
Sebastian’s first goal was to attend college. He was accepted into a program but lacked transportation and a driver’s license. He found work at a McDonald’s within walking distance of his apartment and began saving money to pay fines and fees and resolve lingering traffic citations. After a few months, Sebastian had earned his license back.
Then he applied for and received a Micro Grant to help pay for a car, which provided the transportation he needed for college along with a hobby he loves. His face lights up when he talks about his car, an older-model Lexus that he keeps spotless and in good repair. He works on his car when he has a rough day. “I baby my car,” he says.
Sebastian started classes at a technical school in fall 2018 and earned a certificate in automotive vehicle maintenance. Meanwhile, he had begun working at a gas station and then found a position that he likes with better pay and benefits driving a forklift at a distribution center.
With a good job, college training and transportation checked off his list, Sebastian is now interested in buying a home. He is searching for a townhome and has qualified for a loan, but is taking time to ensure he makes a good decision.
Housing Motivates Sebastian to Keep Pursuing Goals
Sebastian continues to meet regularly with his case manager, Molly Rinehart, who provides support and guidance as he works on his goals and has also encouraged him to take care of his mental health. “Case managers are your best friends when it comes to Lincoln Place,” Sebastian says. “They’re going to build you up.”
As Sebastian reflects on his goals and achievements, Molly points out how far he has come in a short time. Seated beside him on a patio outside the apartment complex, she says, “You have accomplished a lot in the past two years,” she tells him. “When you moved in here, you were ready to go. You used this program in the best way.”
Of all the factors that helped Sebastian achieve his goals, he says stable housing is the most important – and losing housing is among his greatest fears. “The housing is the hugest thing,” he says. “It gives me a reason not to relapse. It gives me a reason to stay focused. It gives me a reason to do good.”