DuPage may help groups provide hotel rooms for the homeless
DuPage County is looking to give $85,000 in grants to two organizations providing hotel rooms for homeless people during the state's stay-at-home order.
DuPage PADS closed all of its overnight housing shelter sites around the county starting Saturday because of the coronavirus outbreak and concerns for the health and safety of its clients, volunteers and staff.
"This decision was not an easy one," said Carol Simler, president and CEO of DuPage PADS.
The Wheaton-based nonprofit organization used $42,000 from its general operating budget to start renting rooms at motels and hotels. Rooms were given to elderly clients with chronic health conditions, families and then individuals.
Simler said the group soon will be paying for 61 rooms to house 81 people. So she said she was thrilled to hear DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin say the county is "acting swiftly" to help DuPage PADS and Catholic Charities pay for temporary housing for unsheltered homeless people.
"Both organizations -- PADS and Catholic Charities -- closed their night shelters and shifted to provide hotel stays for the clients who rely on them," Cronin said Tuesday. "These decisions were made in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19."
Cronin said his intention is to provide $50,000 to DuPage PADS and $35,000 to Catholic Charities "to help them during these unprecedented times."
If the grants are approved by the county board next month, the money will come from DuPage's Human Services Grant Fund. The $1 million fund provides grants to agencies serving the needs of county residents.
"We really thank Chairman Cronin for his leadership and his staff for making this happen," Simler said. "This funding is much needed."
In addition to the grants, Cronin said DuPage officials have sent a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker requesting flexibility with state funding the county received for rental assistance. He said DuPage wants to be able to "respond more quickly to the needs of residents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness."
Mary Keating, DuPage's director of community services, said the department is working to identify rental assistance funds that could be used to pay for hotel stays. She said Illinois is expected to release $6 million statewide in additional funding for emergency lodging.
Keating said the county's housing support case managers are prioritizing clients who are living in hotels and are potentially at risk of losing that housing due to job loss, illness or other economic stress. County officials also are working closely with the DuPage County Continuum of Care, a group working to develop strategies to end homelessness.
In addition to hotel rooms, DuPage PADS is providing food and other essentials to its clients. Depending on how long the crisis lasts, Simler said the group may need more funding.
Donations are being accepted on the group's website at dupagepads.org.