Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about homelessness in our community, the Dorothy Day Center, and our new vision for serving our most vulnerable neighbors.

ABOUT THE DOROTHY DAY CENTER TODAY

Q: Do you serve children and families who are homeless at Dorothy Day Center and Higher Ground Saint Paul?
At Dorothy Day and Higher Ground Saint Paul, we serve only adults. Children and families are cared for at our Family Service Center in Maplewood. Many youth in their teens and early twenties do arrive at our doors seeking help, and we have dedicated outreach services to connect them to more appropriate support, including shelter, housing and services available our Hope Street Shelter for Homeless Youth in Minneapolis. This is also why we must press towards completion of Dorothy Day Place as it will include permanent housing specifically dedicated for young adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Q: What are the current services that Dorothy Day Center provides during the day?
During the day, the Dorothy Day Center is open and available for clients to access a wide range of important supports and services, including:

  • meals
  • housing services
  • job training
  • showers
  • veterans’ services
  • laundry
  • mental health assistance

SUMMARY OF THE NEW VISION FOR THE DOROTHY DAY CENTER

Q: What exactly does the new vision include?
The new vision for the Dorothy Day Center is a two-building campus designed to prevent and end homelessness by focusing on two key components which do not exist sufficiently today – more permanent homes and dedicated self-sufficiency services that will create true pathways out of poverty and homelessness.

Phase 1 – Higher Ground Saint Paul: The first phase of the new vision—Higher Ground Saint Paul—opened in January 2017 and offers 473 people experiencing homelessness a place to sleep, including both dignified shelter and permanent housing.

Phase 2 – Saint Paul Opportunity Center and Dorothy Day Residence: The second phase consists of a six-floor, 50,000-square-foot building to be built on the site of the current Dorothy Day Center. The building will include the Saint Paul Opportunity Center, an integrated, one-stop location connecting people to critical services to improve their health, income, housing stability, and well-being. Services will be provided by a variety of community partner organizations, including Catholic Charities, Ramsey County, the Veterans Administration, and health care providers. The building will also include the Dorothy Day Residence, 177 permanent housing units above the Opportunity Center. Catholic Charities hopes to complete construction on the Saint Paul Opportunity Center in early 2019.

Q: How do you know this new vision/model will be effective in Saint Paul?
This project is based on an innovative and proven model run by Catholic Charities in Minneapolis. Since it opened in 2012, Higher Ground has provided permanent homes for 172 people, some of whom had been homeless for 10 years or more. Nearly 80% of the individuals who have found permanent housing at Higher Ground came from an emergency shelter situation. In addition, another 294 individuals utilizing the Pay-for-Stay shelter at Higher Ground have successfully transitioned to permanent homes in the community. The current Dorothy Day Center campus provides the large majority of emergency shelter and housing in Ramsey County – between 60-80%. We are confident that bringing the proven success of this model to St. Paul will have a significant impact on preventing and ending homelessness.
Q: How will the new vision prevent and end homelessness in the Greater Minneapolis and Saint Paul region?
As of 2016, HUD estimates that there are approximately 5000 people experiencing homelessness in the seven Metro county region. The new vision for the Dorothy Day Center will double the amount of permanent housing – the real solution to homelessness – and significantly expand critical support resources and pathways out of poverty that do not exist sufficiently today. Based upon the success of Higher Ground Minneapolis, we are confident that well-designed facilities, new programming, and expanded partnerships at the new Dorothy Day Center will dramatically improve the entire region’s ability to prevent and end homelessness.
Q: Where will this new vision be located?
It is located near the current location in downtown Saint Paul. Catholic Charities will be here serving the most vulnerable among us in the heart of the city, where we have been for over 35 years. Higher Ground Saint Paul opened in January of 2017 and offers 473 people experiencing homelessness a place to sleep, including both dignified shelter and permanent housing.
The Saint Paul Opportunity Center and Dorothy Day Residence will be built on and near the existing Dorothy Day Center site.

Q: What will the new vision cost and how will Catholic Charities sustain it?
With a total project cost of approximately $100 million, we have already secured significant public and private resources to make this vision a reality.

We have reached our private capital campaign goal of $40 million. The project is the largest public-private partnership in state history in housing and social services, securing broad support and funding from both public and private sources

Today it costs $2.2 million annually to operate the Dorothy Day Center. When both phases of the new vision are complete and fully functioning, we anticipate an approximately $600,000 increase in operating costs, for a total operating cost of $2.8 million dollars. This cost increase will deliver incredible added value, and Catholic Charities has a strategy in place to support and sustain this new vision through operating partnerships, contracts and with continuing support from our generous donors.

Q: Why will it cost $100 million to replace the Dorothy Day Center?
Keep in mind, we’re not just “replacing” Dorothy Day. With your help, we’re building a community asset to serve distinctly different purposes:

  • providing emergency shelter and affordable housing (Higher Ground Saint Paul),
  • offering access to services such as job training, housing opportunities, basic health care and benefits (Saint Paul Opportunity Center), and
  • providing affordable efficiency apartments for low-income adults (located above the Saint Paul Opportunity Center).

Together, these new facilities will provide care for more than 1,000 people each day.

Q: Which other organizations and partners will provide services at the new Dorothy Day Center?
The success of the new vision for the Dorothy Day Center will depend on sustaining and growing partnerships with a wide range of other service providers. Ramsey County is one important partner already playing a key role as we plan services and programs that will be available at the Saint Paul Opportunity Center.

Current partners at the Dorothy Day Center offering services and programming include: South Metro Human Services, Healthcare for the Homeless, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, Dept. of Employment & Economic Development, Goodwill/Easter Seals, St. Catherine University, Ramsey County Financial Workers, Street Works, People Inc., Listening House, Salvation Army, Safe Zone/Face to Face, and Ramsey County Mental Health/Chemical Health Services.

Q: What is supportive housing?
Supportive housing is a combination of housing and services that provide a cost-effective way to help people live more stable, productive lives. It can help people who face complex challenges, and it is often paired with social services like job training, to help people get back on their feet.
Q: What is Pay-for-Stay shelter?
Pay-for-Stay shelter is an innovative model that allows guests to pay a nominal nightly fee that is deposited into a personal savings account. Residents can use that account to pay rent or deposit on stable housing. More than 65% of the pay-for-stay residents at Higher Ground Minneapolis are employed. The low-cost pay-for-stay housing option helps them save money towards a permanent home and provides them with a locker where they can to store their belongings while they work.

IDEAS QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS ABOUT THE NEW VISION FOR THE DOROTHY DAY CENTER

Q: I’m concerned this project will just attract more people experiencing homelessness to downtown Saint Paul.
Unfortunately, those experiencing homelessness are already downtown in greater numbers than can be served at the Dorothy Day Center. This project will provide more of those individuals with a dignified, safe environment and access to services (such as job training), transitional pay-for-stay housing, and permanent housing opportunities, hopefully ending their experience with homelessness permanently.

There are two important things you can do to help ensure the new vision for the Dorothy Day Center is a success for our entire community. First, you can help us make it truly transformational. We have opportunities to invest in programming, building elements and external design features that will change lives and inspire all of us for generations to come. We have just one opportunity to get this right.

We also need help from the entire community to support a comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. No single governmental unit, organization or neighborhood can do it alone.

Q: Will you continue to provide services while the new buildings are being constructed?
There will be no disruption in services to those most in need during construction of the new vision for the Dorothy Day Center. Catholic Charities’ Mary Hall has been renovated so that it can become the hub of daytime services while the Saint Paul Opportunity Center and Dorothy Day Residence is being constructed – health care, meals and all other daytime services currently offered at the Dorothy Day Center will be provided at Mary Hall during this time.
Q: What is the cost associated with services provided during the transition?
It is critical that we continue to provide our most vulnerable neighbors with shelter, meals and services –without interruption – throughout construction of the new vision. To make this possible, we have renovated the current Mary Hall building so that it may accommodate, on a short-term basis, many of the daytime services currently provided in the Dorothy Day Center. Catholic Charities has invested in off-site warehouse space to house the food and supplies currently stored at the Dorothy Day warehouse attached to the old building. The anticipated cost of these investments to ensure continuation of services without interruption is estimated at approximately $3.4 million. Catholic Charities will continue to rely on critical contributions from individuals and organizations to fund these critical investments.

CURRENT PROJECT STATUS, NEXT STEPS & HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Q: What are the next steps for the project?
Higher Ground Saint Paul opened in January 2017 and offers 473 people experiencing homelessness a place to sleep, including both dignified shelter and permanent housing.

Saint Paul Opportunity Center and Dorothy Day Residence: The second phase consists of a six-floor, 50,000-square-foot building to be built on the site of the current Dorothy Day Center. The building will include the Saint Paul Opportunity Center, an integrated, one-stop location connecting people to critical services to improve their health, income, housing stability, and well-being. Services will be provided by a variety of community partner organizations, including Catholic Charities, Ramsey County, the Veterans Administration, and health care providers. The building will also include the Dorothy Day Residence, 177 permanent housing units above the Opportunity Center. Catholic Charities hopes to complete construction on the Saint Paul Opportunity Center in early 2019.

Q: How are you engaging community members in the design and planning of this project?
We are working with many individuals and groups as we continue to plan and design the new vision for the Dorothy Day Center—city and county officials, local business owners, churches, neighborhood groups, and clients of the Dorothy Day Center. This is a project that will have impact and consequence not only for those most vulnerable, but for the entire Greater MSP region for many decades to come.
Q: How are you engaging Dorothy Day Center clients in the planning/design process?
We have had listening sessions with clients to hear their concerns and to learn their suggestions regarding the program design. They have provided valuable and specific guidance every step of the way as we advance a new vision for the Dorothy Day Center. Dorothy Day Center staff work hard to provide important updates and to ensure clients questions and concerns are addressed.
Q: I would like a presentation to my work, church or neighborhood organization so that we can understand and offer feedback on the new vision for the Dorothy Day Center.
Catholic Charities is happy to work with you to set up a presentation or discussion session so that you can provide input and learn more about the new vision. Contact Julia Jenson at julia.jenson@cctwincities.org or 612-204-8367.

GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT CATHOLIC CHARITIES

Q: If I make a donation, does the Archdiocese, or any other organization, have access to my money?
No. Catholic Charities is an independent 501(c) (3) nonprofit, registered in the State of Minnesota. All gifts to Catholic Charities are used solely for the programs and services impacting the thousands of people we serve each year. Because the Dorothy Day Center is a program of Catholic Charities, contributions cannot be directed to the Archdiocese or any other organization or used for any other purpose. Gifts are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Q: How does Catholic Charities fund its work?
In FY 2016, our annual revenue was $64.9 million and came from the following sources:

  • 55% from Contributions and Grants
  • Private contributions and grants (42.5%)
    • Wills and bequests (4.5%)
    • In-kind gifts (3.9%)
    • United Way grants (2.6%)
    • Catholic Services Appeal Foundation (1.5%)
  • 33.6% Government Contracts
  • 11.5% Program fees

Our full financial reports are conveniently posted online at cctwincities.org.

Q: Does Catholic Charities only serve Catholics?
No, Catholic Charities and the Dorothy Day Center serve everyone, regardless of faith, background or circumstance. We never ask if someone is Catholic…only if they are hungry or in need.
Q: How much money goes to administrative and fundraising costs at Catholic Charities?
In FY 2016, Catholic Charities overall spending on administration and fundraising was approximately 15%, well below the Charities Review Council’s strict accountability standards recommended maximum of 30%.

HOW DO PEOPLE BECOME HOMELESS?

Q: How many people in our community are experiencing homelessness?
In 201, according to HUD, there were 7,341 persons experiencing homelessness in Minnesota, with 5,020 in the 7 County Metro area. While we are still above pre-recession levels, we have made progress. We know how to solve the issue of homelessness. That does not mean that no one will ever experience homelessness again, but if they do, we want it to be rare, brief and nonrecurring.
Q: What is the cause of homelessness?
There are multiple pathways into the experience of homelessness. Often, households have more than one cause behind their entry into homelessness. The majority of people become homeless because they cannot afford their housing, often getting evicted because of a lost job or reduced hours at work. Many others may become homeless due to physical, mental and/or behavior health issues become too great a burden, losing their home and cannot find new housing that will support them.
Q: How do working people become homeless?
Many homeless people are working. But working full time at minimum wage (at $7.75 per hour) adds up to $16,120 annually before taxes and social security deductions… just over $1,300 per month. The monthly average rent of an affordable apartment in the Greater MSP region is $745 (and vacancies are scarce). Once you add in transportation, food and the very basic necessities, there is nothing left to save for unforeseen needs… needs such as an injury that sends you to the emergency room, a major car repair that impacts your ability to get to work, or the high cost of heat during a brutal winter. If an emergency comes up, those living paycheck to paycheck can quickly fall into crisis and eventually, homelessness.