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St. Paul drops plans for new Dorothy Day Center on East Side

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Plans to relocate the Dorothy Day Center, which serves people who are homeless and in poverty, to the east side of St. Paul have been scrapped, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman released a statement Monday saying the center, which is the city's largest overnight homeless drop-in shelter, must still be upgraded. But instead of pursuing a new center on the east side of the city, near the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center by Lafayette Road, it'll instead be located near its current location on West 7th Street, near the Xcel Energy Center.

Residents and business owners near the proposed East Side complex had raised many concerns about the plan, saying the center would concentrate too much poverty and social service agencies in that area of St. Paul, the Star Tribune reports.

In response to the opposition, Coleman said his Dorothy Day Center task force met last week and decided to scrap the east side location rather than taking the time needed to allay neighborhood concerns, according to the Star Tribune.

“We agreed that changing the location for the central elements of the ReVision to a site at or near the current Dorothy Day Center would allow the ReVision to move forward with the urgency required,” Coleman said.

The city is seeking funds from the state to build the new $64 million facility -- including $22 million in general obligation bonds and $17 million in housing infrastructure bonds. And community support is considered essential to getting the funding approved during the current legislative session, acccording to the Pioneer Press.

Catholic Charities operates the Dorothy Day Center, which opened in 1981 as a temporary drop-in shelter, and began providing overnight shelter to people who are homeless in 1999.  The demand for beds for the homeless has increased dramatically, and the center currently operates beyond its capacity.

The ReVision plan calls for expanded space for shelter beds, as well as more permanent transitional housing and other services for those in poverty.

"I don't expect a specific site announcement right away," said Catholic Charities spokeswoman Jesse Sorensen. "We're looking in and around the Dorothy Day Center."

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