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St. Paul Looks To Take $39M Step In Helping Homeless Move Forward

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For more than 30 years, the Dorothy Day Center has helped those who call the streets home. And as homelessness problems grow across the state, the center has reached a breaking point.

On Friday, community leaders made the call to action to resolve the problem long-term.

Karl, a 63-year-old homeless man, shared his story in a video with Catholic Charities. He works three jobs and comes to the St. Paul center for food and a mat to sleep on. It’s heartbreaking to realize the 250 people the center serves each night are just a fraction of those who need help.

In Minnesota, 10,000 people live on the streets. A majority of them come to St .Paul because of its resources, mainly the Dorothy Day Center.

“Right now it’s everything,” Karl says. “It’s the kitchen, your bedroom, just a place to lay your head for right now.”

He went on to explain he’s not alone.

“I bet if you walked around here, asked anybody: What would make you happy? They would say a job and my own place,” Karl said.

St. Paul’s community leaders are proposing a long-term solution to help make that dream come true.

“It isn’t a shelter solution. It’s about the continuum and making sure people have the opportunities to move more quickly to transition into something that’s permanent for them,” said Carleen Rhodes, the president of the St. Paul Foundation.

The task force in charge of the project says homelessness isn’t just a community issue, it’s a statewide issue. They’re looking to finance the project through state and community resources.

In February, Gov. Mark Dayton will propose a capital investment plan.

This Dorothy Day Center ReVision project, along with others, would fund permanent supportive housing.

The $39 million proposal mirrors the new Higher Ground facility in Minneapolis. It would have a capacity to house and shelter 470 people and include “pay-for-stay” rooms. Additionally, a state-of-the-art Connection Center would be built near the facility. It would provide computer labs, job training and other resources for those in need.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says the current Dorothy Day Center formula isn’t helping clients move forward. His city is prepared to provide a higher level of service.

“This is the kind of community we are,” Coleman said. “This is the best of the city of St. Paul. This is the best of all of us.”

For more on Karl’s story and the Dorothy Day Center ReVision project, see this video or click here.

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