News / Uncategorized

Staying Warm Without a Home

Chicago set a record on Feb. 19 when temperatures dropped to 8 below zero, marking the coldest February in Chicago since 1875, according to NBC news.

But what happens when the “Siberian Express” hits those without a home?

Source: Creative Commons/Wikimedia

Source: Creative Commons/Wikimedia

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services sent volunteers who were formerly homeless to document the number of homeless Chicagoans in 2015. Although the statstics won’t be published until summer, the department reported nearly 6,300 homeless people in Chicago last year: 5,329 were in shelters and 965 were living on the streets. This number was similar to the 2013 statistics.

Homeless Shelter Directory lists 28 shelters in Chicago where people can find a warm haven from the cold, but the directory also has a cautionary notice that states, “Many of these shelters now have long waiting lists…Shelters and services also go out of business.”

This January, Pacific Garden Mission in Pilsen reported it had to lay mats down for 85 people because all its other 900 beds were occupied, according to the Sun-Times.

Although a temporary solution, homeless people can access warming centers such as libraries, police stations and community centers that offer individuals a safe place to escape the cold. Those without access to a computer may have trouble finding the nearest location.

Chicago Transit Authority stops can be an easier option for homeless individuals, but one that may incite angry and judgmental looks from other passengers. In November 2008, the CTA posted signs prohibiting customers from continually riding the train. But now, its “Policies and Practices” page doesn’t list these regulations.

In 2008, CTA officials posted signs to restrict homeless people from continually riding the train.

In 2008, CTA officials posted signs to restrict homeless people from continually riding the train. Source: Chicago Careless blog

So where can homeless Chicagoans go to avoid the cold? Although options such as shelters, CTA trains and warming centers are available, dwindling resources and high numbers of homelessness may make this weather inescapable.


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