St. Vincent de Paul nearing guest capacity; 1 resident there over 1 year, until last week

DAYTON — St. Vincent De Paul in Dayton says it is almost at capacity and worries it might have to turn away some people looking for a warm place to sleep.

The shelter has been around for 37 years and tells News Center 7 it has never seen this much need.

News Center 7′s Haley Kosik spoke with a woman who lived at St. Vincent more than a year.

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Roughly 600 people spend the night at the shelter but it can only house 620.

Patricia Rice was one of them until last week.

In November 2021, Rice says she could not make her rent payments and wound up homeless. A couple of months later, she found her way to St. Vincent.

“On January 1st, Happy New Year of 2022, till I left January 26th of 2023,” she told Kosik. “So I was one of their longer residents.”

Rice says it was the only place she could turn like so many other families.

“But we’re getting to that point where we almost can’t accept anymore than what we have,” said Michael Vanderburgh, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Society.

St. Vincent first started offering shelter to people in 1985.

“And we’re seeing numbers we’ve never seen before,” he said.

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Kosik says during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the shelter had more open beds than it had in years.

“But that’s reversed itself very quickly,” Vanderburgh said. “It’s a very troubling trend.”

He told Kosik it’s because of everything from drug and alcohol use, inflation, eviction and another factor.

“Because of broken relationships... and what we really need is for people to love one another,” said Vanderburgh.

“I basically ended up at St. Vincent because all my immediate family’s passed away and I’m an only child.” said Rice.

Kosik says at the shelter, Rice spent a lot of time in the chapel and prayed she would soon have her own place again.

“And this chair that I’m basically sitting on is the chair from the chapel,” she said.

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St. Vincent gave her that chair after it helped her find new housing at Huffman Place, an affordable senior living rental community.

“Oh my gosh, it’s just a relief,” said Rice. “The first day I was just so giddy, I was just so happy. I was so thankful to God.”

“It all comes together to get people what they need,” Vanderburgh told Kosik. “To give them clothing and food and shelter and accompaniment, in assistance with find them a place to live.”

Rice said she stayed optimistic and it paid off.

“I can get back to being myself. I’ve got my own bathroom!” Freedoms she missed.

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Rice told Kosik she slept on an air mattress Monday night but it’s her own air mattress. She still needs a lot more furniture but says that will come in time.

She plans to volunteer at St. Vincent.

For more information on how to donate items, make a financial contribution online or to volunteer, visit St. Vincent’s website.