Who we are
St. Francis – St. Joseph House is a safe and dignified environment where homeless men can work on securing immediate needs of housing, employment, drug/alcohol rehabilitation and case management. We’ve been an emergency shelter since 1985. Our primary goal is to assist guests in finding permanent housing as soon as possible. We are a Catholic Worker House providing an environment of communal living and spiritual values based on the philosophies of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.
Our existence is totally dependent on private donations. We receive no funding from federal, state, or local governments. Less than 6% of our annual budget goes to administrative expenses. Building a family of personal and community relationships with others who believe in our mission is critical to our success and our survival.
History of the House
1984 St. Francis Catholic Worker House is established when former bar owner/bar tender Jim Mullen purchases a house at 1437 Walnut Street in the inner city neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati because people told him “they have no place to sleep.” The home for 18 homeless immediately fills up. The sign on the door quotes Joshua 24:15,
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Jim adopts the philosophy of the Catholic Worker Movement and St. Francis becomes a Catholic Worker House.
1987 St. Joseph House of Hospitality, a Catholic Worker House at 528 E. 13th Street in Cincinnati is founded by Richard Steineman and Father Mark Schmieder to give short term housing to homeless men in the city.
David Huber becomes the St. Francis Catholic Worker House full-time house manager.
1990 Jim Mullen is dying of cancer and puts the St. Francis Catholic Worker House building up for sale.
St. Joseph House co-founder Richard Steineman moves away from Cincinnati.
The St. Francis Catholic Worker House and the St. Joseph House of Hospitality are about to close permanently.
1991 In March, at the request of St. Joseph House staff workers, Fr. Mark Schmieder buys the St. Francis House on Walnut Street from Jim Mullen. After extensive repairs, the house on Walnut Street is renamed the St. Francis - St. Joseph Catholic Worker House to continue the vision, hope and mission of the original houses.
1993 The St. Francis – St. Joseph Catholic Worker House is incorporated and receives tax-exempt status. A Board of Trustees is formed and led by Fr. Mark Schmieder.
1996 The goal to purchase the St. Francis – St. Joseph Catholic Worker House from Fr. Mark Schmieder is met – at the price he paid for it in 1991.
Grants from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation make possible major rehabilitation, and building repairs are completed in 1996, 2004, and 2007, enabling the ministry to continue.
Board of Trustees votes to begin search for part-time house manager, increase fundraising efforts, and maintain a group of paid staff members.
1998 David Huber retires from St. Francis – St. Joseph Catholic Worker House, leaving behind a legacy which is the spirit and life of the Catholic Worker Movement.
2000 A dedicated working staff, all formerly homeless and in recovery (a number are ex-prisoners) are in place, leading by both service and example.
This year, The Catholic Worker House provided temporary housing to 220 homeless men.
One Third attained permanent independent living; the others had a place to sleep.
On Christmas Eve, the SFSJ community lost its founder Father Mark Schmieder to cancer. Join us in remembering Mark.
Today The house maintains an exceptional 35% success rate (compared to a national average of 6 - 8%) as measured by homeless men moving on to employment and independent living. The House could not continue without its many dedicated volunteers and donors.