AURORA, IL – Aurora City Council unanimously approved an $ 800,000 loan last week to help Hesed House prepare its warehouse to house more than 100 people this winter.
Officials said more than 100 people were living in tents in the warehouse at Hesed House on South River Street after the shelter was forced to reduce its ability to follow public health guidelines amid the pandemic.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, the main shelter averaged around 250 children, women and men each night, Hesed House general manager Joe Jackson told a Kane County Council committee in July.
Officials have since said the shelter – the second largest in Illinois – can accommodate up to 165 people at a time. If properly wintered, the Hesed House warehouse across the street could accommodate up to 107, which would take the shelter’s capacity beyond its pre-pandemic levels.
Aurora will act as the bank by providing Hesed House with the $ 800,000 loan. City officials are hopeful that Hesed House will be able to repay the loan after receiving coronavirus relief grants from Kane and DuPage counties.
The improvements will give Hesed House about two years to plan a fundraising campaign for the shelter’s long-term improvements, officials said.
The Hesed house was forced to move its inhabitants at a local hotel after several people tested positive for the coronavirus in April. The Illinois Department of Public Health has warned that everyone at Hesed House could contract the coronavirus if they don’t find a new space where residents can maintain appropriate social distancing.
Alex Alexandrou, the city’s chief executive, said the Hesed House wintering project was urgently needed to avert a housing crisis this winter amid the ongoing pandemic.
“There is no doubt that the pandemic has created an incredible increase in the number of homeless people, as well as the demand for housing and shelters for the homeless,” said Alexandrou.