Some shelters at capacity as Chicagoans seek relief from bitter cold

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CHICAGO-- Some shelters are at capacity as people seek an escape from the bitter cold, but they are still making room for those who need a place to stay. Nearly 1,100 homeless people took shelter at Pacific Garden mission in the south loop overnight, getting out of the potentially deadly bitter cold. 300 of them were women and children.

Last night three teenagers, with no coats, came in for help. One boy's toe was frozen to his shoe.

Phil Kwiatkowski, Pacific Garden Mission President said “We gave them coats, a change of clothes, food and shelter if they need it.”

Thresholds is a mental health organization that contracts with the city to help the homeless. John Czapkowicz and Tara Noonan are part of the mobile assessment program CTA team; looking for people who use the trains for shelter. Many of them will spend the day in the Thompson center.

Czapkowicz said they “Find out what the person needs right off the bat. Then talk about more long term kind of stuff.”

This team has met a woman named Ellen before. Today she took them up on some hand and toe warmers, a sweatshirt and a McDonald's gift card. Ellen says she used to work at the Four Seasons. She's originally from Uganda but says she's planning on going home to Washington, DC. Until then she sleeps by an entrance to the red line.

Tara took Ellen to get some food and drinks. She and john promised to come back tomorrow to see if Ellen needs anything else.

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  • Very Sad

    While some of the homeless may have mental health issues and/or pre conceived notions of shelters and other agencies that help people in their position and choose not to ask or take help from those offering.
    To me the bottom line is that in today’s society people in America should not be forgotten. It is plain to see in my eyes that with the gap growing between the have and have nots, corporate greed, prices of basic needs such as food, shelter, housing and jobs. We are going in the wrong direction. 30 years or so ago Growing up in Chicago, I used to see only a very small handful of homeless. And before you judge me, I used to roam the streets of Chicago, so I wasn’t driving past by them in my car I would actually walk and talk to them.
    Now though, there are more men, women an children that need help.
    We as a society should have more compassion and take more responsibility in preventing people on the verge of being homeless and those that are already, to do whatever we can to get them basic human needs.

    • Tiffany V.

      Thank you so very much for saying this! I may not have been homeless myself, but I had an uncle with mental health issues who was homeless for 30 years until he passed away from health related issues and the elements. I saw what it did to him and how even family looked down upon him and I want to do everything in my power to prevent such saddening situations like this from reoccurring.

      If you have any information, please respond and we can go further from there to help as many as we can. Thank you so very much :-)