ST. PAUL NOTES | Dorothy Day Center — still building, but downtown, not on East Side


The Dorothy Day Center plans to build on the East Side have been changed, after both the Payne Phalen and Dayton’s Bluff community councils voted unanimously to oppose the plans. (The St. Paul Police Federation also weighed in against the propsoed site.) So the expansion of the homeless shelter will take place downtown, on the present site and possibly also at the now-for-sale labor building at 411 Main Street.

Everybody acknowledges the need for expansion. As I wrote a couple of months ago, the shelter is overflowing and the need is far greater than the space. The question is not whether to expand, but where. Folks on the East Side, struggling with the need to rebuild business districts and improve the community image, said that was the wrong place to put another homeless shelter. They pointed out that Union Gospel Mission is already there, and that the East Side shouldn’t be the only part of the city to host social services for homeless people. (See the Pioneer Press coverage here.)

Mayor Chris Coleman’s statement said:

“The task force I asked to provide recommendations for critically needed changes to the Dorothy Day Center – led by Saint Paul Foundation President Carleen Rhodes and Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Kramer – did a tremendous job in a short period of time to complete its work in advance of the 2014 legislative session. The core recommendations of the Dorothy Day Center ReVision —permanent housing, dignified shelter, and connections to services and opportunities to prevent and end homelessness—have received enthusiastic, bipartisan and statewide support from many people. We are confident that, with time, concerns about the proposed location could have been resolved. Unfortunately, we don’t have the amount of time necessary to resolve these concerns. … “

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