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Homeless shelter in Columbia to close after sale of property


The St. Francis Catholic Worker House is up for sale and will close once the building is sold,

Ruth O'Neill -- trustee of St. Francis Catholic Worker Community and director of Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen -- said the building has been operating as an overnight homeless shelter since 1984. O'Neill said the organization has decided to put the house at 901 Range Line Street up for sale, because of changing needs in Columbia.

"Because there's other services being offered in the area, we're not seeing as many folks come in," O'Neill said. "With Room At The Inn being open all year round, the need for an overnight shelter has decreased significantly."

The house has nine bedrooms, four full baths and one half-bath. O'Neill said St. Francis House has room for 12 guests each night.

But O'Neill said this past winter, St. Francis House only saw an average of two men sleeping at the shelter each night. She said St. Francis House has between five to 12 people coming for breakfast, dinner or a shower each night.

"For the past several months, we've been looking at and considering what our next steps are and how to best serve the community," O'Neill said.

She said the organization will continue its work with its property on William Street, where a refugee family is currently living. She said the family will be there for another year; but after that, the organization will look into options of possible overnight hospitality there.

O'Neill said money from the St. Francis House sale will help fund the organization and any extra money will be put into the William Street home or soup kitchen.

She said the soup kitchen at 702 Wilkes Boulevard serves between 80-125 meals each day.

According to Weichert Realtors, the St. Francis House property was listed on May 8 for $1,000,000 but was reduced on Tuesday to $750,000.

O'Neill said St. Francis House will continue to operate as a men's shelter until the building is sold.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.


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