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$800K Loan To Help Hesed House Winterize Shelter During Pandemic

AURORA, IL — The Aurora City Council unanimously approved an $800,000 loan last week to help Hesed House prepare its warehouse to shelter more than 100 people this winter.

Hesed House officials in July pleaded with the Kane County Board to provide them with some of the county’s federal coronavirus-relief funding to upgrade and winterize its makeshift shelter.

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Officials said more than 100 people have been living in tents at Hesed House’s warehouse on South River Street after the shelter was forced to reduce its capacity to follow public health guidelines amid the pandemic.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the main shelter housed an average about 250 children, women and men each night, Hesed House Managing Director Joe Jackson told a Kane County Board committee in July.

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Officials have since said the shelter — the second-largest in Illinois — can house up to 165 people at a time. If properly winterized, Hesed House’s warehouse across the street could serve up to 107, taking the shelter’s capacity beyond its pre-pandemic levels.

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Aurora will act as a bank by providing Hesed House with the $800,000 loan. City officials are hopeful Hesed House will be able to repay the loan after receiving coronavirus-relief grants from Kane and DuPage counties.

The upgrades will buy Hesed House about two years’ time to plan a capital campaign for long-term upgrades at the shelter, officials said.

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Hesed House was forced to move its residents to a local hotel after in April several people tested positive for the coronavirus. The Illinois Department of Public Health warned every person at Hesed House could get the coronavirus if they did not find a new space where residents could maintain proper social distance.

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Alex Alexandrou, the city’s chief management officer, said the winterization project at Hesed House is urgently needed to stave off a housing crisis this winter amid the ongoing pandemic.

“There is no question that the pandemic has created an incredible increase in the number of homeless people, as well as the demand for homeless housing and shelter,” Alexandrou said.

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This article originally appeared on the Aurora Patch

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