By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In St. Paul Wednesday morning, we got our first look inside the largest public-private partnership of its kind in state history.

The new Dorothy Day Place is a $100 million project composed of a two-building campus designed to prevent and end homelessness.

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“Just staying up all night. Walking around all night. Going to the park, sleep on the bench or something,” said Antonio Kelly.

Before Kelly got in touch with Catholic Charities, he would spend his nights on the street. Now, he has a place to stay for as long as he needs it.

“I love it here. I love it. I love it. I wouldn’t change nothing. From day one to now, I wouldn’t change anything,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s new home is one of 177 provided by the Dorothy Day Residence.

Preference is given to the long-term homeless, older youth and veterans. But they expect to help about 1,000 people a day.

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“This is intended to be a hub of hope and opportunity,” Tim Marx, president of Catholic Charities, said.

There will be mental and physical care, along with dental services. Wellness and yoga will also be available. Those in need can come in and do laundry, take a shower, and get a hot meal.

“This is the new cafeteria. It’s actually three times larger than the original Dorothy Day Center. There is an emphasis on natural light and family-style dining,” Marx said.

“We are stretching that dollar so people can stay in their homes but still have that nutritious meal,” said Wendy Boppert, program manager for Catholic Charities.

Organizers said the goal of the Richard M. Schulze Opportunity Center is to connect people with resources that will allow them to dream big when it comes to a home and career.

“As important and as big as it is, we have to keep our eye on the ball. This community must stay on top of our housing and homelessness crisis,” Marx said.

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The new Dorothy Day Place plans to serve about 400 people for every meal. Daytime services at the new campus will begin on Oct. 29.

John Lauritsen