Dozens sleeping on Chicago streets to draw attention to youth homelessness

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CHICAGO — More than 100 people are sleeping on the street Thursday night to raise awareness for youth homelessness.

So often when we think of the homeless, we envision someone with a sign and cup on the street corner, but that's just not the case for most young people without shelter. Typically they move from place to place, through trains, libraries, and lobbies, almost disappearing into the landscape of the city.

Covenant House Illinois, a homeless center working to serve the youngest people without a place to stay off the streets, also works to make sure they don't stay invisible.

"I used to walk around and feel like I meant nothing. I was down at rock bottom," said one young man who recently found a place to stay at Covenant House.

More than 100 people will be sleeping on the streets Thursday to support young people like Craig as part of their second annual SLEEP OUT. During the event, individuals and business leaders bundle up to bear the low 30-degree temperatures in hopes of drawing attention to the growing issue of youth homelessness.

"We have over 3,000 youth that find themselves homeless in the Chicago Metro Area, but there's less than 400 beds. We want them to know that in the dark and the cold, there are people who care about them," Covenant House Illinois CEO Cheryl Hamilton-Hill said.

With the debut of Covenant House Illinois last year, the group added a dozen more rooms to house young adults who find themselves on the streets.

"I'm thankful to be here cause I'd probably still be in a bad situation if it weren't for their help," another young resident said as she roamed through Covenant House.

While there, the young adults are not only given a safe place to stay, but also receive job search help, guidance counselors and support groups.

"This is the first time I have walked around and felt like a am worth something," Craig said. "I've got something to live for."

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