The phrase ‘unlawful basement sleeping area’ actually appears in an article about Elgin, Illinois. The current temperature in Elgin is 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperature tomorrow is forecast to be 9 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s pretty damn cold.
Especially if you are homeless.
Seeing a need in his neighborhood, Elgin resident Greg Schiller opened his basement to allow homeless to have someplace warm to sleep. Unfortunately, the house doesn’t measure up to Elgin’s city ordinances for people sleeping in basements. And so, of course, the local government is threatening to condemn the house if Schiller doesn’t kick the homeless back out into the cold.
Look, I understand why they do this – nobody wants anybody dying in a basement because it lacks escape from fire or carbon monoxide. But threatening to take someone’s home away? For giving their fellow human a place to stay warm and, you know, not freeze to death? What nonsense. The city officials of Elgin should be ashamed of themselves.
Maybe I’m overreacting, though. As the Lord says in Matthew 25, “Inasmuch as ye have permission from thine local Caesar to do it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” At least, I think that’s what it says. I may be thinking of the SJW version.
Call me crazy, but I’d bet my salary for the year that the Elgin city officials have “lawful basement sleeping areas” in their homes. And I’d bet you double-or-nothing they have not opened their basements up to get their fellow humans out of the cold.
From NBC Chicago:
A suburban Chicago resident who was offering up “slumber parties” in his basement for homeless people in his neighborhood during dangerously cold weather says city officials have given him an ultimatum.
Stop the “slumber parties” or the house will be condemned.
Greg Schiller, of Elgin, said he began letting a group of homeless people sleep in his unfinished basement last month during brutally cold nights, offering them food, warm beverages 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,” he said, adding that no drugs or alcohol were allowed inside his residence during the evening events.
Last winter, Schiller offered up his garage to area homeless, but said he was told he could no longer do so after EMTs were called to help a man with a heart condition. That’s when he had the idea to move them to his basement – complete with all the activities needed to consider them simply “slumber parties.”
Schiller believed city code allowed for slumber parties, but officials said there are “sleeping regulations” for basements and Schiller’s basement doesn’t meet those requirements.
“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.
Schiller said city officials and police officers came to his home with a warrant Tuesday and went into his basement. There, he said they found his ceiling height too low and windows too high and too small to be an egress.
“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.”
Center confirmed that Schiller was given 24 hours to clear the basement in an emailed statement, adding, “If not, the City will take additional enforcement action to compel the removal of the unlawful basement sleeping area.