Catholic Charities: Dorothy Day shelter will be torn down, replaced by 2018

Rendering of the new Catholic Charities facilities
Catholic Charities is going to unveil the second phase of its project to replace the Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul.
Courtesy of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Catholic Charities is unveiling a plan for a new six-story residence and social services center in downtown St. Paul on Friday. It will be connected by skyway to the homeless shelter already under construction near the Xcel Energy Center, set to open in December.

The new building will stand where the Dorothy Day Center is now, and reflect the 35-year history of the shelter. The new facility plans to offer housing in a "Dorothy Day Residence." It is part of a $100 million makeover for the Catholic Charities campus between 7th Street and Interstate 35E. The new project will offer more than 360 beds, which is over 100 more than have been available on the floor at the Dorothy Day Center. The second phase is scheduled to open in late 2018.

"It will be a striking improvement to the urban core, and it's an integrated project to address the needs of those most in need," said Catholic Charities CEO Tim Marx. He is speaking Friday at the last annual Dorothy Day Community Breakfast to be held at the existing homeless shelter in downtown St. Paul.

The overall project will replace the Dorothy Day Center and a nearby union hall. It is modeled after Catholic Charities facilities in Minneapolis, including the Higher Ground emergency shelter and residence on Glenwood Avenue and the Opportunity Center on Chicago Avenue, just north of Interstate 35W. Dorothy Day was built as a day facility in St. Paul, but has allowed people to sleep on floor mats for decades. It reached capacity and started turning people away in 2011, prompting some to set up tents nearby along West 7th Street.

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"People were not being treated with the dignity they deserved, and they were in unsafe conditions, and we need to do something," said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. "Fortunately, the community really stepped up."

Renderings of new Catholic Charities facilities
The new Catholic Charities facility will connect by skyway to the Higher Ground St. Paul facility currently under construction in St. Paul.
Courtesy of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

The new facilities in both cities will offer temporary emergency shelter, as well as upgraded "pay for stay" beds that offer secure storage and help residents save up for a security deposit on their own home or some other housing. St. Paul will also offer supportive services for people being discharged from hospitals, but still in need of some care. Catholic Charities Opportunity Centers offer "one stop shop" services that include employment assistance, mental health and medical services, lockers, showers, internet access, and other supports.

Marx also announced that his organization has raised more than $31 million of the $40 million goal in private fundraising for the St. Paul project. Significant gifts have come from the Richard Schulze Family Foundation, the Hardenbergh Foundation, US Bank, Premier Banks, as well as the Wells Fargo Foundation and the Wilf family, principal owners of the Minnesota Vikings.

The state, Ramsey County and other public sources have put in another $25 million, and Catholic Charities is asking for an additional $12 million in this year's bonding bill, currently under consideration in the Legislature.