Elgin nonprofit hopes someone will donate space
An Elgin nonprofit that took on the operations of an emergency homeless shelter over the winter has lost its office space and hopes someone will step in to help.
Lucy and Pedro Gomez operate House of Restoration, which runs an overnight shelter when it's 15 degrees or below in the basement of First United Methodist Church in Elgin. The nonprofit's office and belongings -- including donated bedding, furniture, food and clothes -- had been housed since August in a former industrial building at 516 Slade Ave. in Elgin.
The Gomezes had an agreement with then-owners Jorge Fuentes and Lupita Sotelo, who bought the property in late 2017, that gave the nonprofit free rent in exchange for doing work to remodel and upgrade the building. Fuentes and Sotelo relinquished the property in January to its original owner, Zoran Petrevski, after defaulting on their monthly payments, Sotelo said.
Petrovski told the Gomezes they could stay if they paid rent or bought the property. "It is my building and it is my business," he said.
The Gomezes said they decided not to fight and moved out last week, giving away some of the nonprofit's belongings to churches and putting the rest in storage.
Now, they hope someone will donate a space of about 1,500 square feet, ideally in Elgin or in a nearby suburb, they said. "We are hoping someone is willing to help," Lucy Gomez said.
Previous building owner Sotelo, of Carpentersville, said the goal was to upgrade the building, which was vacant for years and needs extensive work, but things progressed too slowly, mostly because of a lack of funding on everybody's part, she said. She and Fuentes have ended their business relationship, she said. Fuentes, who has moved to California, could not be reached for comment.
The Gomezes did some improvements to the property but not as much as she'd hoped, Sotelo said. "They're good people. They are doing the best they can," she said.
The Gomezes said they did what they could -- Pedro Gomez works as caseworker for the Illinois Department of Human Services and the couple have a young child -- with help from volunteers. For example, they spent $1,500 for a garage door, removed tiling and carpeting, cleaned off the roof and more, they said. They also paid a grant writer to apply for grants, they said.
House of Restoration received a letter last month from U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg commending its work for the homeless during the "polar vortex" in late January. Elgin Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez also commended the work of the nonprofit and the dedication of its volunteers.
Krishnamoorthi's letter was a salve at a difficult time when the prospect of moving out was looming, Lucy Gomez said.
"It's the love of God that impels us and compels us to do the work of the people," she said.
You can contact House of Restoration at (224) 856-1214 or visit houseofrestorationinc.org.