GLEN ELLYN – There will be fewer resources in the village for area homeless after complaints prompted nonprofit DuPage Pads to cap the number of temporary overnight shelters in Glen Ellyn.
The organization, which works with local agencies such as churches to provide safe places for the county's homeless population, will now offer two emergency sites per week in the village, instead of three.
"Last October, based on some complaints we heard from residents in the community and business owners, we sat down with Pads representatives and some stakeholder churches and tried to work through a solution that would kind of lessen the burden for the community of Glen Ellyn," said Police Chief Philip Norton during a Glen Ellyn Village Board meeting June 23. "It seemed as though we were hosting more sites than other communities."
Norton said that previously, the village overnight shelters were open Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, which led to a number of homeless men and women staying in the central business district, sometimes from Wednesday to Monday morning.
He said the department received complaints about the behavior of some of the DuPage Pads clients. Trustee Pete Ladesic said he had heard from residents who were harassed by panhandlers after a recent French Market, but made clear they were not necessarily Pads clients.
Norton said Pads would not reduce services and all three parties were willing to work together to find a solution, rearranging the schedule with other host sites to fill the gap. A case outreach manager will also work with a patrol officer dedicated to Pads in the future.
Now, Glen Ellyn will host emergency sites on Sundays at First Congregational Church and on Wednesdays at Evangelical Covenant Church, according to village documents. In the fall, First Presbyterian Church will switch duties with First Congregational, according to Pads Executive Director Carol Simler.
Ladesic also asked village staff to look more into public safety requirements for the churches, saying there is little regulation on the overnight spaces.
Norton said that, because the church's main business was not as a shelter, it would be hard to implement.
"I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to mandate at least that there are some kind of fire detection systems if they are going to host people for overnight stay in a gymnasium that is not otherwise designed specifically for that," said Board President Alex Demos.
Ladesic went on to praise Pads and Simler for their work and cooperation.
"She gets it," he said. "She understands what their mission is and what some of the concerns of our residents are and I think she's done a great job."
For more information about Pads, visit www.dupagepads.org.
Glen Ellyn Pads locations
First Congregational Church, 535 Forest Ave.
Metra access, showers, no vehicles, capacity of 65
Evangelical Covenant Church, 277 Hawthorne Blvd.
Showers, no laundry, capacity of 65
Doors open at 6 p.m. for families and 7 p.m. for individuals.