Catholic Charities urging Legislature to ‘do its part’ in funding new Dorothy Day Place

| May 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

Completed in January, Higher Ground St. Paul is the first of Catholic Charities’ two-phase project designed to end homelessness in St. Paul. Courtesy Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis has hit its private fundraising goal for the new Dorothy Day Place in downtown St. Paul, but it needs the State Legislature to allocate public funding to complete the $100 million project.

Catholic Charities leaders announced May 5 at an annual fundraising breakfast at the St. Paul Hotel that the charitable organization had recently achieved its $40 million goal for private donations.

The project’s first phase, Higher Ground St. Paul, opened in January with housing and other services for people who are homeless in St. Paul. The organization is eager to start the project’s second phase, the Opportunity Center and Dorothy Day Residence, which will provide job training and a community clinic.

In order to complete the project, it’s critical that public funding comes through, Catholic Charities President and CEO Tim Marx said at the breakfast.

“We need more stable homes for a lot more people, and that’s why we need Dorothy Day Residence, but we need your help,” Marx said. “The private sector has done what it said it was going to do, in this historic private-public partnership … . The Legislature has not done its job.”

Because the Legislature has not passed legislation to fund the project, investors are getting nervous, Marx said. “Costs are increasing. Time is a-wasting,” he said. “We must be in the ground this summer.”

Marx and other Catholic Charities leaders encouraged attendees to contact their legislators to support funding for the private-public partnership, which is the largest in state history. The legislative session is scheduled to end May 22.

The buildings are replacing Dorothy Day Center, a soup kitchen turned overnight shelter, which opened in 1981. In 2011, demand for the space exceeded availability, and Catholic Charities had to turn people away from the Dorothy Day Center for the first time in its history. The situation led St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman to form a task force, which recommended in 2013 that Catholic Charities build a new center with the aim of ending homelessness in the city.

The annual Dorothy Day Community Breakfast included a joint invocation by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Rev. Patricia Lull, bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Archbishop Hebda is a non-voting member of Catholic Charities’ board of directors.

At the breakfast, Catholic Charities also recognized volunteer David Moss and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation with community service awards.

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