A man in Elgin, Illinois says city officials have told him to stop offering “slumber parties” for homeless people in his basement.
Greg Schiller adds that he has been given an ultimatum to end the practice or have his house condemned.
“I would stay up all night with them and give them coffee and stuff and feed them,” he said of the “parties” Tuesday, according to NBC 5.
“They shut me down and said I have 24 hours to return my basement to storage and take down – I have several cots and sleeping bags for everybody – or they’ll condemn the house,” Schiller added.
“I’m trying to help these people get out of the cold. There’s not a lot of help for them as as places to lay their heads. It’s cold enough to freeze to death.”
Schiller said he began letting a group of homeless people sleep in his unfinished basement last month during some of the freezing evenings in Elgin.
The suburban Chicago resident noted he provided the gathering with food, warm beverages, a cot to sleep on and movies.
Schiller added that no alcohol or drugs were permitted inside his residence during the evening events.
Elgin officials said there are “sleeping regulations” for basement’s and Schiller’s does not meet them.
“While we appreciate those who volunteer to provide additional resources in the community, Mr. Schiller’s house does not comply with codes and regulations that guard against potential dangers such as carbon monoxide poisoning, inadequate light and ventilation, and insufficient exits in the event of a fire,” city spokesperson Molly Center said in a statement.
Center confirmed that Schiller had been given 24 hours to clear his basement after city officials and police officers gave him a warrant after seeing his basement last Tuesday.
“If not, the City will take additional enforcement action to compel the removal of the unlawful basement sleeping area,” she said of what happens next should Schiller not halt the gatherings.
Schiller said his basement’s ceiling height was determined as too low, while his windows were labeled too high and too small to serve as an egress.
The Illinois man added that city officials had previously threatened him with citations for other violations, including one for a portable toilet he set up for his homeless visitors to use.