Updated Jan. 6, 9:45 a.m.
In Chicago, CALL 3-1-1 to seek help for yourself or others, including access to transportation assistance to shelters and warming centers. The city hotline, managed by Catholic Charities, is open round-the-clock throughout the year.
The CTA will not enforce its policy prohibiting continuous ridership on buses and trains during this period. Also, there are to be no turnaways at any overnight (emergency) city shelters, both according to the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS).
To help those needing shelter from this life-threatening cold weather, Chicago DFSS opened six community service centers and six senior centers for extended hours, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., starting Sunday, Jan. 5 through Tuesday, Jan. 7. A map and a listing of Chicago’s six general and six senior shelter sites is available here (courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times).
One Chicago emergency shelter is regularly open 24 hours a day – the Garfield Center, at 10 South Kedzie Avenue. But during this weather emergency, DFSS told its 10 overnight shelters to maintain 24-hour operations through Tuesday, according to John Pfeiffer, first deputy commissioner at DFSS.
Since this weekend, DFSS and nine outreach delegate service agencies have beefed up the outreach – doing senior well-being checks, and reaching out to homeless people who stay on the street, checking locales where people tend to seek cover when they sleep outside.
Overnight Sunday-Monday and Monday-Tuesday, from 12 midnight to 7 a.m., a city bus equipped with food and hot drinks will be sent to check on homeless people who sleep outside. The bus starts its overnight outreach on Lower Wacker Drive.
The Sunday-Monday night bus talked to nine people, five of whom agreed to stay on the bus, according to Mr. Pfeiffer, who was among city staffers manning the outreach bus.
In the suburbs and downstate, information on warming center sites should be available on every community website or by calling your local police non-emergency line. Many emergency shelters also maintain websites with updated information.
Cook County also provides information on warming centers in suburban townships.
Statewide, including the suburbs, more than 100 warming centers will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at Illinois Department of Human Services offices. The Illinois Tollway Oases in the Chicago area also are available as warming centers 24 hours, seven days a week, according to the department. For sites available statewide, call (800) 843-6154 or visit keepwarm.illinois.gov
Suburbs with warming center information include Oak Lawn, Oak Park and Tinley Park.
– Anne Bowhay, Media