Reader: Homeless in a pandemic-stricken Chicago

By Sarah Gelbard Jan. 14, 2021

A row of tents lining a narrow cement enclosure provide minimal shelter for some of Chicago’s homeless individuals. Courtesy Sarah Gelbard

Underneath the city streets on Lower Wacker, many people have set up encampments along a stretch of concrete and iron rust. It can smell like gasoline, cat urine, pigeon droppings, rat decay, mold, and rotted fruit, depending on where you’re standing. At night the light is harsh and artificial, and the hum of cars, buses, and trucks never stops. Those who live here call it the Underworld. Some struggle with PTSD and substance use disorder. It’s late December 2020, and they are all trying to survive.