Annual homeless population survey coincides with freezing temps

CHICAGO — Just as temperatures drop into dangerous territory, hundreds of volunteers and city workers are expected to do a previously scheduled “point in time” count of people who are experiencing homelessness. It provides a snapshot of the city’s homeless population and is a requirement for federal funding.

Last year’s count found more than 5,400 people in the city living on the streets or in shelters.

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless said the number is exponentially higher. Their estimate is 80,000 people, which includes people who are doubled up sleeping on couches or on floors.

The coalition said the city needs to devote a substantial amount of resources to addressing the full scope of the problem and the need for affordable housing.

Shakira Clayton, woman who is experiencing homelessness, was one of many who headed to the 24-hour warming center Thursday evening at 10 S. Kedzie Ave. as temperatures plunged into dangerous territory.

“I don’t have anywhere to go. The people out here are not helping us, they’re not. it’s a lot of people struggling out here who need help,” Clayton said.

Julie Dworkin, director of police at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, said they're concerned about homelessness all year-round.

"...The fact that the city is not doing enough to address the problem, and if we were, we wouldn’t have homeless people in the street in these really cold nights," she said.

Community activist, Andrew Holmes, is preparing to spend the night in a sleeping bag outside City Hall to address the issue.

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