A Chicago man is being warned by city officials to stop
offering “slumber parties” at his home to homeless people or
else his house will be condemned.
Greg Schiller told NBC 5 he began
opening his basement up to the homeless last month during
brutally cold weather. He offered them offered them food,
warm drinks and a place to sleep while watching movies.
“I would stay up all night with them and give them coffee and
stuff and feed them,” he said, while also adding that no drugs
or alcohol were allowed inside his residence during the
However, city officials said Schiller’s basement doesn’t
meet their “sleeping regulations.”
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“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,”
Molly Center, a city spokesperson, said.
On Tuesday, Schiller said he was visited by city officials
and police who handed him a warrant detailing his basement’s
ceiling height, which they said was too low for the city’s
standard and added that his windows were too high and small.
“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,” Schiller said.
Schiller told the local station he made his basement available
when another shelter wasn’t.
“I’m trying to help these people get out of the cold,” Schiller
said. “There’s not a lot of help for them as far as places to
lay their heads.”
However, Center contended that there are several shelters
in the city that provide safe spaces for homeless people
“In times of extreme temperature, temporary locations open
within the community that all conform to regulations and
codes,” Center said.
Though Schiller said he’ll stop offering his home to those
without one, he won’t stop looking for other options to care
for the homeless.