The city of Elgin, Illinois, has threatened to condemn Greg Schiller’s home because he has allowed a group of homeless people to sleep in his basement during freezing temperatures.
Schiller told WMAQ that he offered the homeless people food, warm drinks and a cot to sleep on while watching movies:
I would stay up all night with them and give them coffee and stuff and feed them.
Schiller originally offered his garage to shelter homeless people, but was told not to do so after some EMTs were called to help a man with a heart condition.
In response to the garage ban, Schiller moved the homeless people into his basement for what he called “slumber parties.”
However, city officials claim that Schiller’s basement doesn’t meet “sleeping regulations” for basements.
Schiller said city officials and police came to his home with a warrant on Jan. 2 and ruled that his basement ceiling heights were too low and that the windows too high:
They shut me down and said I have 24 hours to return my basement to storage and take down – I have several cots with sleeping bags for everybody – or they’ll condemn the house…
I’m trying to help these people get out of the cold. There’s not a lot of help for them as far as places to lay their heads.
Schiller said he only opened up his basement when a local shelter wasn’t available.
According to Schiller, some local shelters require homeless to meet a specific set of criteria and others open only when temperatures drop to a certain level.
The city defended the local shelters, which only open during extreme temperatures.