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DuPagePads Takes On Family Homelessness Using Downers Grove Hotel

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (CBS) -- A DuPage County group is fighting homelessness with a hotel.

The nonprofit is getting creative in its mission to help people get back on their feet, and CBS 2's Jackie Kostek met a family that is already doing so.

Right now, about half of the rooms of a Red Roof Inn in Downers Grove are being used as transitional housing for families and individuals experiencing homelessness. But the nonprofit DuPagePads is hoping to purchase the entire building by spring of next year and convert it, which will give more families and individuals a roof over their head and a warm bed to sleep in.

In this season of giving thanks, Marilyn Thompson and her children Neveah, Serenity, and William have one big reason to be thankful.

"When we came in the room and they just fell back in their beds, William was like, 'Oh, we have a bed to sleep in,'" Thompson said.

More than just beds, a shower, and roof over their heads, the hotel room means stability - something Thompson says she needed after she was forced to leave her last apartment because of safety concerns.

"I went to three different places since I left my place," Thompson said. "When you're living with someone, they say one thing, and then we had to leave the next week and I'm calling the school telling them to transfer the taxi."

April Redzic is the president and chief executive officer of the DuPagePads.  

"Family homelessness can look invisible to people that are not aware of the issue," Redzic said.

DuPagePads takes on the issue of family homelessness by providing temporary housing in local hotels like that Red Roof Inn on Butterfield Road. The nonprofit also provides wraparound services - help accessing medical care, finding a job, transportation, and permanent housing.

Redzic showed Kostek a resource room area where we DuPagePads keeps personal care products.

"Deodorant, body wash - that stuff goes really fast," she said.

Families and individuals can also pick up basics three days a week - food, clothing, and hygiene.

"We need more diapers here than you could possibly imagine as families are in," Redzic said. "We have 89 kids right now in shelter.

By spring, DuPagePads plans to buy the whole hotel and convert it into an Interim Housing Center. Thompson, though, she already has peace of mind.

"All the other stuff that I used to cry about and thinking I wasn't going to make it, when we came here, it just brought everything back to life for me," she said, "when I opened the door and me and my kids had a place to sleep."

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