WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Greg Schiller, a Chicago resident, is being ordered to stop offering homeless people a place to stay during freezing cold weather.
- Chicago city officials gave Schiller an ultimatum or else his house will be condemned.
- They said his basement doesn’t meet their “sleeping regulations.”
Greg Schiller told NBC 5 he opened his basement to homeless people last month to keep them warm during dangerously cold weather.
“I would stay up all night with them and give them coffee and stuff and feed them,” Schiller said.
He stressed that he doesn’t allow drugs nor alcohol inside his house during the “slumber parties”.
Schiller’s act of being a Good Samaritan was disapproved by city officials. They said his basement doesn’t meet the city’s standard.
“We appreciate those who volunteer to provide additional resources in the community,” Molly Center, a city spokesperson, said. “However, 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.”
Schiller said on Tuesday city officials and the police handed him a warrant. They said his basement’s ceiling was too low for the city’s standard and noted 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 related.
Schiller said he offered his basement when another shelter was full.
“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,” he said.
Center asserted that there are several safe shelters for homeless people to stay.
“In times of extreme temperature, temporary locations open within the community that all conform to regulations and codes,” she said.
Left with no choice, Schiller said he’ll stop offering his basement to the homeless. But added that he won’t stop looking for other ways to care for them.