OPINION | Rest in peace, Dorothy Day: The Dayton’s Bluff Equity Committee looks at the process of siting a new Dorothy Day Center


The dust has settled on the proposal by Catholic Charities to site a new Dorothy Day Center on the Eastside. Unfortunately, Dorothy Day herself might have shuddered at how the discussion unfolded. A pacifist and anarchist, Day advocated “distributism,” the equitable division of property and the means of production.

For its part, the Dayton’s Bluff Equity Committee took a look at the process, rather than the result, and concluded that it was deeply flawed. The committee asked whether the decision to move the center from downtown St. Paul might have less to do with serving the poor than with the site’s potential investment value and the desire to make the homeless less conspicuous. When some of the center’s patrons were asked recently about the proposal, they said they much preferred the downtown location and dismissed, as the least of their worries, the oft-repeated statement by Catholic Charities CEO Tim Marx that they felt “on display.”

There are over 10,000 poor people in Payne-Phalen and Dayton’s Bluff, many of whom are only one or two steps removed from being homeless. We need housing, jobs, and, yes, homeless shelters. But the hurried and possibly disingenuous way this proposal came to us did little to address those needs.

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