WLS-TV: Death reported as homeless grapple with cold, city runs Point-in-Time count

By Jessica D’Onofrio

The dangerous cold always brings heightened awareness over some of the most vulnerable in the city – the homeless.

A lot of people will be caught in this dangerous cold, the homeless in particular. The city is urging anyone who needs a warm place to go to get to a warming center like the one at 10 South Kedzie.

With wind chills plummeting to as low as 30 degrees below zero, the cold has turned lethal once again this winter. The latest report of a cold-related death says a man believed to be in his 60s and homeless was found dead in a Logan Square alley Tuesday morning. It is the 15th cold-related death of the season. The medical examiner says he died from hypothermia due to cold exposure.

As the icy air hovers over the Chicago area, volunteers and support staff with the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services hit the streets Wednesday night and into the morning to help get the homeless some shelter.

“They’re wary of human contact. When it gets this cold, there’s a reason people don’t go to the shelter. Some of it might be mental health related, some might have had some bad experiences,” said Jeffrey Gilbert, volunteer, Homeless Count. “So we have to be sensitive to that, and when they don’t want to be bothered, we just have to move on and respect that.”

The effort by the volunteers was part of Chicago’s Point In Time Survey of people living on the street. This survey is usually done every two years. But the city is able to do it in back-to-back years this time because of federal grant money. Besides getting a count, staff members also try to get an idea of why people are homeless so they can help them better.