Five paintings sit on the fireplace mantel of the Vincent and Louise House. Each represents one of the founding principles — faith, service, simplicity, social justice and community living — upon which the program was built. “They are heirlooms that have been passed down by a previous generation,” resident Carolyn Krammer said, and they will soon be in need of a new home.
After 25 years of service, the Vincent and Louise House — located at 2308 N. Sheffield Ave. — is closing its doors. Sponsored by Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM), the Vincent and Louise House offered a faith-based housing program for 10 students who committed one year to community living and service in exchange for a housing scholarship.
According to Katie Sullivan, who works in CCM and acts as coordinator for the house, the program is shutting down due to budget cuts. While it used to offer students full housing scholarships, over the years CCM began working with the Financial Aid Office to adjust scholarships based on students’ needs.
“It’s gotten more expensive to live here,” Krammer said. “For a while it was free housing, free food, everything — it’s not anymore. The group applying has gotten smaller, which of course is very, very sad.”
Residents of the house have served dinner to the DePaul community Sunday through Wednesday at 6 p.m. during the fall, winter and spring quarters, as well as volunteered at St. Vincent DePaul’s Soup Kitchen on a weekly basis. Residents are also encouraged to practice simplistic living, which ranges from everyday acts like recycling, turning off the lights and using less water to raising social consciousness by bringing awareness to current issues and being open minded.
“The community is just great,” Krammer said. “The people who are here really want to be here — really want to welcome other people.”
The program began in 1992 through a partnership with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago’s Amate House, a community living program based on the same principles of service, community, faith, social justice and stewardship. After separating from Amate, the house was named Vincent and Louise after St. Vincent de Paul — DePaul’s namesake and founder of the Congregation of the Mission — and St. Louise de Marillac, founder of the Daughters of Charity.
The closing comes at a bittersweet time, as the program just celebrated its 25-year anniversary on Saturday, May 20. “We invited people from all the previous years,” Sullivan said. “It’s good to see them come back and have that space with each other again.”
The house — a three-floor building with a chapel, kitchen, living rooms and bedrooms—will be converted into traditional residential housing. According to Sullivan, the space will be renovated over the summer so each of the three floors can become a separate apartment.
“It’s really sad to me,” Sullivan said. “To me I think it’s about more than the people who live there. (…) We have some students who come because they can’t afford dinner elsewhere. We have some students who come because they are lonely and are looking for community, and we have some students who are experiencing both.”
While it won’t be a residential program, Sullivan said University Ministry hopes to continue a mission-based scholarship program where students can honor values like service and hospitality, and commit themselves to learning about Vincent and Louise and the university mission.
“We are still working on what will come next,” Sullivan said.