PALATINE, Ill. (CBS) — A nonprofit that helps the homeless is racking up huge bills every week as they pay for clients to stay in hotels.

Now, they’re looking to expand their own facility to meet the heightened demand the pandemic caused. As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, they may need some help.

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“We’re overflowing throughout our entire building,” said Suzanne Ploger.

Ploger loves donations – diapers, sweaters, canned foods. But she doesn’t always love finding a place to put them.

“it is definitely a game of Tetris,” Ploger said.

Ploger is the director of development for Journeys: The Road Home. The Palatine-based nonprofit is running out of space.

“We already have our hardhats,” she said.

They are breaking ground this month on a new, bigger building at the same location.

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And Ploger said the expansion can’t come soon enough.

“The demand has gone up,” she said. “Our food pantry clients have gone up 150 percent – people who have never needed our help before.”

One of those people is Marissa Christensen, who lost her job due to the pandemic, and then lost her home. She turned to Journeys, who paid for her stay at a hotel that wound up hiring her.

“It’s allowing me to be able to save my money so I can get my own place,” Christensen said.

Christensen said Journeys is paying $18,000 a week for hotel rooms because the shelters they work with shut down due to the pandemic.

The plan is for the new building to also have 40 beds for people to stay in.
The staff says by the time its built, the pandemic might be over – but not the economic aftermath.

“Having all our services we provide under one location will make it so much better,” Ploger said.

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The team at Journeys said they’ll need about $6.2 million to complete the project. So far, they’ve raised about $5 million.

Tim McNicholas