WBEZ | homeless http://www.wbez.org/tags/homeless Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Scrapping for metal in the bitter cold http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/scrapping-metal-bitter-cold-109591 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/coldman2.PNG" style="height: 460px; width: 620px;" title="Ulysses Bonilla travels by bike to look for scrap metal even on the coldest winter days. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" /></div><p>On the day I met Ulysses Bonilla the thermometer had dipped to negative three, snow blanketed the ground, and the wind was whipping in every direction.<br /><br />I&rsquo;d come to this Chicago underpass looking for a guy I know who stays here.<br /><br />Ulysses was here because this is where he takes his short smoke breaks. Mostly he smokes discarded cigarette butts he finds on the sidewalk, but on a splurge day he actually buys cigarettes.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s a break from a routine he follows daily&mdash;rain or sleet, intense heat or severe cold. With a nylon-topped kiddie trailer lassoed to a bike, he makes his way around the alleys of Chicago collecting recyclables, including house wire, steel pipes, copper, and aluminum.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/coldman.PNG" style="height: 221px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Chicagoan Ulysses Bonilla (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" />On a typical day he starts at 6 a.m. During his 10-hour work day he&rsquo;ll traverse 20 to 25 miles, roughly from North Avenue to Irving Park Road and Sheridan Road west to Kedzie. On a really good day his collection efforts may net him $30 to $40 at a recycling center or &ldquo;junkyard&rdquo; as he calls them.</div><p>The frigid day of our chance encounter, he&rsquo;d been at it three hours and figured his haul was worth maybe $13 or $14.<br /><br />In our little conversation he tells me about his life, where he sleeps at night, and about a business he dreams of starting ... you can hear that hope in the audio, above.<br /><br />When he wakes up in the morning, Bonilla never knows what &ldquo;junk&rdquo; he&rsquo;ll find or how much money he&rsquo;ll have at the end of the day. His biggest fear, he says, is uncertainty.</p></p> Tue, 28 Jan 2014 15:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/scrapping-metal-bitter-cold-109591 Counting Chicago's homeless population http://www.wbez.org/news/counting-chicagos-homeless-population-109565 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Homeless Count.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5f6d8a96-c168-7a2a-13eb-449f7ac171c3">On one of the coldest nights of the year, the City of Chicago set out to count its homeless population.</p><p>It took hundreds of people to carry out <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/emerg/alerts/2013/dec/chicago-s-2014-point-in-time-homeless-count.html">Wednesday&rsquo;s survey.</a> Shelters did their own headcount, police covered abandoned buildings, the Chicago Housing Authority checked its closed properties and volunteers fanned out across the city, riding public transportation, and checking the streets.</p><p>The volunteers get a list of survey questions. If people don&#39;t want to talk, the volunteers are instructed to guess their approximate age and race, and mark them on a tally sheet.</p><p>The group I am with went to Lower Wacker Drive. They found a couple huddled together, underneath blankets at least a foot deep. The woman in the couple turned her back and burrowed deeper into her blankets while the man sat up.</p><p>A volunteer introduced herself and started the survey.</p><p>&ldquo;Is this your first time being homeless?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;In and out,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;Working, and so forth. And then back homeless again.&rdquo;</p><p>The questions are mostly yes or no. But some people told us extra details, like what sort of jobs they pick up during the day and what religious beliefs they hold.</p><p>&ldquo;Any kids?&rdquo; the volunteer asked.</p><p>One man said his kids are in college. &ldquo;They are out of town,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But they love me, you know.&rdquo;</p><p>The volunteer asked the couple if they wanted to go to a shelter.</p><p>&ldquo;This is my lady right here,&rdquo; the man said, &ldquo;we&rsquo;ve been together 12 years. And we do it together.&rdquo; He said he worries they would be separated by gender in a shelter.</p><p>We left Lower Wacker and drove slowly along the streets, still looking. We found a shack constructed next to the highway, and inside we heard people fighting. The volunteers called out the questions, but the people inside screamed at us to go away.</p><p>The count is not perfect, as people can be missed. But coordinators say it is a useful tool. Last year,<a href="http://www.thechicagoalliance.org/documents/Plan%202.0%20Progress%20Report%208-13.pdf"> this count found 6,276 people who were homeless</a>. That is down from the previous survey in 2011. The city said because of economic conditions the expect an <a href="http://www.usmayors.org/pressreleases/uploads/2013/1210-report-HH.pdf">overall rise in people without stable housing</a>. But chronic homelessness-- people who stay out in the streets, sometimes for years-- those numbers are down.</p><p>Coordinators said the cold can be good for the survey, because people are more likely to go to a shelter, where they are easier to count. The temperature hovered around zero and earlier in the night, there was a report of a man found frozen to death in Logan Square. Back in the car, some volunteers wondered why people aren&rsquo;t going to shelters.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that there is Catholic Charities, there&rsquo;s other relief services, there&rsquo;s Heartland - there are other people,&rdquo; one volunteer said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s hard for me to understand why they&rsquo;re doing what they&rsquo;re doing.&rdquo;</p><p>An advocate explained that people consider their space on the street a home. One volunteer mentioned a couple she met earlier: &ldquo;She had a dustpan and a broom. And she was sweeping the debris to keep the rats away, keep the area clean. And I remember him saying, &lsquo;yeah, she does this because this one of the few places that we&rsquo;re able to stay. And we don&rsquo;t want to create a situation where they would make us leave.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Around 2 am we headed back. The job was done. But after hours of scanning the streets, it is hard to stop. Our eyes became use to staring down the alley, looking beneath underpasses-- trying to make sure we see who is there.</p><p>Taking a moment to notice, to take count.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ web producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 17:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/counting-chicagos-homeless-population-109565 Uptown man raised alarm on viaduct evictions before death http://www.wbez.org/news/uptown-man-raised-alarm-viaduct-evictions-death-106287 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/homeless1.jpg" style="height: 167px; width: 250px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Jack King slept under the viaduct at Wilson Avenue in Uptown. Before he died, he told WBEZ that city officials targeted him and other homeless there with arbitrary evictions. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />Just a few weeks ago, Chicago&rsquo;s Uptown neighborhood lit up with debate over whether it should maintain services for the homeless as it has for several decades. In particular, 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman and the Salvation Army disagreed over whether the charity organization should continue distributing free meals every day from its mobile food unit at Wilson Avenue and Marine Drive. The two sides say they have since patched over their differences.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/voices-salvation-army-food-truck-clients-uptown-debate-105945">WBEZ interviewed some clients of the food truck</a> while the issue was hot. One of them was &ldquo;Jack,&rdquo; who declined to share his last name but said he slept under the Wilson Avenue viaduct. &ldquo;Not everybody has jobs out here, so it does help. It helps a lot,&rdquo; Jack said, adding that he appeared at the truck almost every day.</p><p dir="ltr">Well, in a piece that ran over the weekend in the Sun-Times, columnist Mark Brown focused on <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/brown/19042742-452/homeless-evicted-from-viaduct.html">arbitrary evictions of the homeless </a>who sleep under the Wilson Ave viaduct. In it, Brown mentions the death of one of those men, a Jack King, who had left the viaduct some days earlier because of the street sweeps. King was found dead March 13 outside a health clinic on Wilson Avenue.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/homeless2.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; height: 188px; width: 250px;" title="King was one of many homeless who slept under the viaduct at Wilson Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. He said police took his belongings when they evicted him and others. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ has confirmed that this is the same &ldquo;Jack&rdquo; we interviewed just six days before his death. During that interview, which we include here without edits, King vented frustration at treatment he said he received at the hands of police for staying under the viaduct. &ldquo;They took my blankets, rugs I had laid out,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe they get brownie points for that, I don&rsquo;t know.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">King said he felt the hostilities began once Cappleman came to office. &ldquo;He don&rsquo;t particularly care too much about us,&rdquo; Jack said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s trying to kick people out of here and there, and you can only chase a person that has nowhere to go so far. There&rsquo;s got to be something, you know?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In an emailed response to WBEZ about King&rsquo;s assertion that the evictions heated up under Cappleman&rsquo;s watch, Cappleman wrote:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Since taking office, I&#39;ve encouraged the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) to check on the individuals living under the viaduct and in the parks on a regular basis. I&#39;ve organized regular outreach missions where staff from my office and the 48th ward office, DFSS, and I walk through the park together in the early morning to talk to these individuals to see if we could encourage them to come indoors and take advantage of the programs and services the shelters provide. We&#39;ve successfully found housing and employment for quite a few of these folks. The gentleman who died is sadly probably not the only person we&#39;ve lost from problems with drinking and other drugs. If this gentleman had taken advantage of the programs and services available to him he may still be here today. He&#39;s the reason why I encourage DFSS to continue to check on these individuals. Everyone deserves a warm bed a safe place to live.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Homeless3.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 188px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="Permanent signs at the Wilson Ave. viaduct give notice that the city regularly cleans the area. In particular, Streets and Sanitation employees will discard furniture that homeless may set up there. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />King told WBEZ that he didn&rsquo;t receive meals from other agencies in the Uptown area because many of them required enrollment in a full-service program to help the homeless. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of circumstances I don&rsquo;t want to go into, [but] some people don&rsquo;t qualify,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I happen to be one of them.&rdquo; One of King&rsquo;s friends who sleeps under the viaduct, Gregory Guest, told WBEZ that King had an alcohol addiction.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the Cook County Medical Examiner&rsquo;s Office, King was discovered outside a health clinic at 855 W. Wilson Ave., not far from the viaduct. His cause of death was hypertension and arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/uptown-man-raised-alarm-viaduct-evictions-death-106287 A Forest Park vet struggles to keep others out of homelessness http://www.wbez.org/news/forest-park-vet-struggles-keep-others-out-homelessness-105502 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79127553&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>When I met Homer Bizzle in his tiny food pantry in west suburban Forest Park, the lights were off.</p><p>Even though the pantry, called America Cares Too, had been open all day, Bizzle said the darkness was typical.</p><p>&ldquo;We just trying to conserve lights, cause, non-profit, you know,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Bizzle started the service project for vets and their families in 2011 after leaving the Army Reserves. He&rsquo;s been running the project on volunteer labor and financing it with small donations and cash out of his own paycheck.</p><p>&ldquo;I just wanted to give back to my fellow veterans and their families,&rdquo; Bizzle said.</p><p>By day, the 33-year-old native of the Austin neighborhood is an advocate for people with disabilities. In the evenings, he heads over to the his spare storefront on W. Harrison St. to meet up with the vets who come here seeking support.</p><p><strong>The battle at home</strong></p><p>In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama announced that 34,000 troops will be home from Afghanistan by this time next year. That&rsquo;s a little over half the remaining troops in what most consider America&rsquo;s longest war.</p><p>But when they get here, many military vets face new, even longer battles - battles with trauma and homelessness. Many come home with mental or physical disabilities, and all come home to a slouching economy. Unemployment among veterans is higher than the national average, and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/discrimination-against-our-countrys-heroes-103510" target="_blank">veteran status itself can be a stigma in a job search</a>. One in three men living on the streets is a veteran (although <a href="http://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/USICH-_Report_to_Congress_on_Homeless_Veterans.pdf" target="_blank">those numbers have declined in recent years</a>). And a recent study estimates that 22 vets commit suicide every day in the U.S.</p><p>All of this is familiar to Bizzle.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7008_009-scr.JPG" style="float: right; height: 169px; width: 320px;" title="The America Cares Too storefront in Forest Park (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;Some of them suffer from PTSD, some anxiety, some have flash backs, shell shock...&rdquo; Bizzle said of the vets he serves.</p><p>While the VA does offer mental health services, Bizzle said traumatized vets who don&rsquo;t feel they can trust the government aren&rsquo;t left with many options.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s kinda hard for a soldier that&rsquo;s coming off active duty to get those kinda treatments in the civilian world because everything costs money, unfortunately,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>He believes the best solutions can come from veterans themselves.</p><p>&ldquo;No offense to politicians but they don&rsquo;t understand the veterans situation, and by me being a veteran I could understand our own situation, the problems we deal with,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The main room at America Cares Too contains a donated TV and a desk with no phone (Bizzle uses his cellphone to run the project because the ComEd bill was too high).</p><p>Three computers sit on folding tables donated by a recovery group that meets next door. And in the back there&rsquo;s a spare office where Bizzle keeps vets&rsquo; files. The walls are lines with boxes of donated toys and socks and underwear purchased with TJ Maxx and Target gift cards. Bizzle&rsquo;s appeals to local government bodies and the VA for financial support <a href="http://austintalks.org/2013/01/former-austin-resident-starts-veterans-nonprofit/" target="_blank">have been unsuccessful so far</a>.</p><p><strong>A chronic lack of support</strong></p><p>This month Esquire reported that the Navy Seal who shot Osama Bin Laden is jobless and living without health insurance. The headline: <a href="http://www.esquire.com/features/man-who-shot-osama-bin-laden-0313" target="_blank">&ldquo;The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden...Is Screwed.&rdquo;</a> Although Esquire&rsquo;s story can&rsquo;t be independently verified - the man in question chose to remain anonymous for his own safety - it reflects a widespread disappointment in the services provided by the state for vets, especially younger vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case of &ldquo;the shooter,&rdquo; as he&rsquo;s called in Esquire, the Navy Seal retired after 16 years of service. That meant no pension, and no more health care for his family. The cutoff point for long-term support is 20 years of service.</p><p>Bizzle&rsquo;s located just a couple miles from the Hines VA Hospital, which helps thousands of vets each year. The Hines complex includes housing for homeless vets, and a network of social service providers. I called them to ask how a vet would end up at a little joint like Bizzle&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the predominant reasons are, there are a small cohort of veterans who just do not want to be in any system,&rdquo; said Anthony Spillie, the head of social work at Hines.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7009_015-scr.JPG" style="height: 214px; width: 380px; float: left;" title="Homer Bizzle reorganizes his small food pantry for veterans. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" />There are an estimated 18,000 homeless vets in the greater Chicago area, and he says that despite offering extensive services, some people just fall through the cracks. Groups like Bizzle&rsquo;s can help catch them.</p><p>&ldquo;There is no wrong door approach,&rdquo; Spillie said. &ldquo;You know most of the time you think of accessing services through the front door. Well, we&rsquo;ll open whatever door we can possibly open for veterans to end and treat their homelessness.</p><p>Bizzle wants to hire veterans to be case workers and counselors, and one day turn his own Bellwood home into a transitional housing center for <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-27/returning-home-presents-different-challenges-female-veterans-89707" target="_blank">female vets</a>.</p><p>But the lack of support is frustrating - and so is seeing what his fellow vets go through.</p><p>&ldquo;It be times I wanna throw that uniform in the garbage,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter</a>.</p></p> Wed, 13 Feb 2013 10:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/forest-park-vet-struggles-keep-others-out-homelessness-105502 Chicago to conduct homeless census http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-conduct-homeless-census-105084 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_paul_kehrer.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Volunteers will hit the city&rsquo;s alleys, streets and CTA lines Tuesday night to ask people who are sleeping outside or on trains and buses if they have a place to go.</p><p>If those people say no, they&rsquo;ll be counted in Chicago&rsquo;s biennial &ldquo;point-in-time&rdquo; homeless census. The count happens in January because on colder nights, more people are likely to check into shelters &ndash; where they&#39;ll get counted automatically &ndash; leaving fewer people to count elsewhere.&nbsp;</p><p>This one-night census can&rsquo;t establish the total number of people experiencing homelessness, but it does provide data that&#39;s used by the federal government to parcel out funding for anti-homelessness initiatives around the country.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F76079691" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Tedd Peso of the Night Ministry, an agency that provides services to homeless youth, remembers the last count.</p><p>&ldquo;It was cold, but it was not this cold, and I remember there was snow on the ground,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But tonight&rsquo;s gonna be a cold night.&rdquo;</p><p>But who&rsquo;s still outside on a night that&rsquo;s predicted to be 8 degrees with a windchill below zero?</p><p>&ldquo;You and I may think when it&rsquo;s 1 degree or 5 degrees out, why wouldn&rsquo;t somebody wanna go into a warming shelter?&rdquo; Peso said.</p><p>During two previous counts, Peso said he&#39;s learned that for some people, a shelter full of strangers may feel even less safe than the streets. For others, mental health issues make it harder to get there.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes people just don&rsquo;t have the cognitive understanding of how to find out the information to go to a warming center or go to a shelter,&rdquo; Peso said.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s 2011 count found more than 6,500 people in shelters or on the streets, and of those, one in five was severely mentally ill.</p><p>But the count is just a snapshot of one night. Estimates of the number of people who are homeless range much higher, <a href="http://www.thechicagoalliance.org/homelessness101.aspx" target="_blank">from 21,000</a> to more than&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagohomeless.org/faq-studies/" target="_blank">100,000</a>. These larger numbers include families who have lost their homes and are now living doubled-up with friends or relatives.</p><p>Even some of the higher numbers may not include minors if they&#39;re not with their families. The Night Ministry estimates that on a given night, there about 2,000 unaccompanied youths on the streets. Citywide, there are about 300 shelter beds for young people.</p><p>Peso said for youths who are out there alone, it may be safer for to avoid revealing they&#39;re homeless.</p><p>&ldquo;For a person who&rsquo;s on the streets, that might be their way that they survive is by telling people that they have a place to stay tonight,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s their survival is not letting people know they&rsquo;re homeless.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 14:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-conduct-homeless-census-105084 Midwest bundles up as bitter cold grips region http://www.wbez.org/news/midwest-bundles-bitter-cold-grips-region-105074 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cold_flickr_meddygarnet.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>MADISON, Wis. &mdash; Homeless people scrambled to find shelter, schools closed down and plumbers wrestled with frozen pipes Tuesday as the Upper Midwest endured a third straight day of bitter cold temperatures.</p><p>Waves of frigid Arctic air began sweeping south from Canada on Saturday night, locking the Midwest in a deep freeze that has left a section of the country well-acquainted with winter&#39;s pains reeling. Authorities suspect exposure has played a role in at least three deaths so far.</p><p>&quot;I am wearing a Snuggie under a top and another jacket over that,&quot; said Faye Whitbeck, president of the chamber of commerce in International Falls, Minn., a town near the Canadian border where the temperature was minus 30 on Tuesday morning. The anticipated high was a balmy 8 below. &quot;I pulled out a coat that went right to my ankles this morning and I wore two scarves.&quot;</p><p>The coldest location in the lower 48 states Monday was Embarrass, Minn., at 36 below. On Sunday it was Babbitt, Minn., at 29 below, according to the National Weather Service. The bitter conditions were expected to persist into the weekend in the Midwest through the eastern half of the U.S., said Shawn DeVinny, a National Weather Service meteorologist in suburban Minneapolis.</p><p>Ariana Laffey, a 30-year-old homeless woman, kept warm with a blanket, three pairs of pants and six shirts as she sat on a milk crate begging near Chicago&#39;s Willis Tower Tuesday morning. She said she and her husband spent the night under a bridge, bundled up under a half-dozen blankets.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re just trying to make enough to get a warm room to sleep in tonight,&quot; Laffey said.</p><p>But in Sioux Falls, S.D., where winter temperatures are normally well below freezing, some homeless shelters had open beds. Shelter managers suspect people who needed a place to stay were already using the services before the temperatures reached more extreme lows. The first cold snap of the season was in early December. Overnight temperatures dropped to 9 below with the wind chill. In Vermillion, S.D., a water pipe break forced the evacuation of a dormitory at the University of South Dakota, with nearly 500 students offered hotel rooms.</p><p>In Michigan&#39;s Upper Peninsula, residents woke to a wind chill that made it feel like 35 below. The temperature in Madison, Wis., was a whopping 1 degree above just before midday Tuesday. For northern Illinois, it was the first time in almost two years that temperatures had dipped below zero.</p><p>The temperature in Detroit was a toasty 7 degrees with a 10 below wind chill around midday. City officials said they planned to extend hours at its two warming centers. A warming center run by St. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church downtown that usually sees 50 to 60 people on a typical winter day had taken in about 90 people Tuesday morning.</p><p>Police in Milwaukee, where the temperature was just 2 degrees at noon, checked under freeway overpasses to find the homeless and urge them to find a shelter. The United Way of Greater Milwaukee has donated $50,000 to two homeless shelters so they can open overflow centers.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re incredibly relieved,&quot; said Donna Rongholt-Migan, executive director of the Cathedral Center, a Milwaukee shelter that received $25,000. &quot;I was walking my dog last night and I couldn&#39;t feel my legs just after walking around the block.&quot;</p><p>Schools across the region either started late or didn&#39;t open at all. Districts in Duluth, Minn., and Ashland, Bayfield, Hurley, Washburn and Superior in far northern Wisconsin closed amid warnings that the wicked wind chills could freeze exposed flesh within a minute.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s brutal,&quot; Courtney Thrall, a 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison student, said as she waited for her bus, her fur-trimmed parka hood pulled over her head.</p><p>On Sunday, a 70-year-old man was found frozen in his unheated home in Des Plaines, Ill. And in Green Bay, Wis., a 38-year-old man was found dead outside his home Monday morning. Authorities in both cases said the victims died of hypothermia and cold exposure, with alcohol a possible contributing factor.</p><p>A 77-year-old Illinois woman also was found dead near her car in southwestern Wisconsin on Saturday night.</p><p>The plunging temperatures made life plenty miserable for plumbers.</p><p>Workers in Madison had to repair at least four water main breaks since Sunday afternoon. Jim Gilchrist, a third-generation plumber in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, said he received about five or six calls Tuesday from people with frozen water pipes in their homes. Few pipes had actually burst &mdash; yet.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ll probably get those calls later, as pipes begin thawing&quot; and develop a split, Gilchrist said. &quot;Today they just know they don&#39;t have water; tomorrow they will have water spraying.&quot;</p><p>At least two fires in southern Wisconsin were blamed on property owners using heaters or other means to thaw frozen pipes. In one case, a dairy barn was destroyed, and in the other, a mobile home was lost. No one was hurt.</p></p> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 12:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/midwest-bundles-bitter-cold-grips-region-105074 Poverty experts describe situation in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-15/nearly-1-6-americans-lives-poverty-92019 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-15/Chicago homeless eyetunes flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty close to 50 years ago--news this week revealed that the fight is far from over. The <a href="http://www.census.gov/" target="_blank">U.S. Census Bureau</a> released <a href="http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p60-239.pdf" target="_blank">new and sobering numbers</a> Tuesday: Nearly one in six Americans lived in poverty in 2010. The numbers were grim but did not reveal much about what poverty actually looks like. To find out what the numbers meant for Chicagoans,<em> Eight Forty-Eight</em> was joined by a local expert on poverty and social services – <a href="http://www.ssa.uchicago.edu/faculty/s-allard.shtml" target="_blank">Scott Allard</a> from the University of Chicago, and Tony Escobar, the director of community relations at <a href="http://breakthrough.org/" target="_blank">Breakthrough Urban Ministries</a> in East Garfield Park.</p><p><em>Music Button: Ancient Astronauts, "From the Sky", from the album We Are To Answer (ESL)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 13:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-15/nearly-1-6-americans-lives-poverty-92019 State cuts hit Chicago homeless http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-25/state-cuts-hit-chicago-homeless-91018 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-25/5982107015_60be447a0f_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel packed a lot into his plans for his first 100 days in office but one issue was not addressed in his transition report: homelessness. The grand challenges persist, though—the year's state budget cut funding for emergency and transitional housing by about half. To get a sense for how those cuts played out and the needs of Chicago’s homeless population, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> spoke to Julie Dworkin, the director of policy for the <a href="http://www.chicagohomeless.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Coalition for the Homeless</a>.</p><p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2011 13:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-25/state-cuts-hit-chicago-homeless-91018 Will you pray for us? http://www.wbez.org/gscott/2008/07/will-you-pray-for-us/354 <p>It's a simple question. Unless you're a journalist, a documentary maker, a man who doesn't believe in God. But it's the only thing Bill asked me to do. Bill and his wife Linda constitute the hub, the nucleus, of a group of homeless and precariously housed people who live, loiter, drink, smoke, laugh, cry, argue, love, and sometimes die at a bustling intersection underneath Interstate 55 on the South Side of Chicago. My wife Erin and I entered their world recently. We drove by their encampment and noticed them interacting with the police who had "rolled up" on them. Bill's $38,250 in outstanding, unpaid tickets (for loitering, drinking in public, obstructing traffic, etc.) testify to their conspicuousness, their tenacity. Because of my commitment to serving the homeless, the indigent, the marginalized, and doing so ON THEIR TERMS, my wife and I went back to visit them. We wanted to get to know these folks and to help them in any way we could. And, to be honest, I was entertaining notions of possibly telling their story on radio and/or film. My motivations for visiting them were therefore a blend of good will and self-interest. That's how it always works, in my opinion. We journalists and researchers often act from a blended place--our intentions may be good, even noble. But we also want to advance our careers. That's why a group like this one represents many things-one of which is self-promotion. In the best case, impure altruism outweighs the self-advancement in the calculus of motive. <!--break--> "The Underpass" reminds me a lot of <a onclick="urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354');" href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715">The Brickyard, which I am reporting on for <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></a>. I write this because my first encounter with The Underpass folks differs from my first encounter with The Brickyard. However, nearly every one of my initial sojourns into a so-called "underground" group is marked by good will, self-interest, sincerity, and artifice. So I wasn't at The Brickyard, but I approaching The Underpass speaks to how one goes about entering an "outlaw group," a subculture. So we charged headlong into their lives, hoping to do some good, and maybe develop a comparative analysis of The Brickyard and other places where people engineer their own off-the-books solutions to the failure of the American Dream. After brief introductions I opened my "trick bag." The bag's contents? Bottles of drinking water. Clean, sterile needles. Kits for safer crack smoking. Condoms. Antibacterial liniment for cuts and scrapes. The people there were agog at the presents coming out of my bag. They marveled and wondered aloud how this could be legal. We gave them identification cards authorizing their legal possession of the crack kits and syringes (although only one person there took the needles, and only a few took the crack kits, and even fewer had any use for drinking water, but several took condoms, if only for "a friend"). "We're all pretty much just drunks here," Bill reported kindly, his clear blue eyes radiating out from a weather-worn face. We yukked it up for two hours. Great conversation. They shared parts of their life stories. And we shared ours, when asked, but mostly we just listened, assuming a seated position on the ground, in the figure of student. Jason incurred a massive brain injury one year ago in an automobile accident that killed his best friend. He's now illiterate, trying to raise a daughter single-handedly. "My uncle's a drunk, he hangs out here, and he loves these people. They're all good people. So I come down here to check on him just about every other day." Dan's a heroin addict. He's been shooting dope for more than 20 years. He hates being addicted, and he hopes to kick it one day soon. "But it's hard, man, I can't stand the withdrawal. Some people can do it, they can go cold turkey. Not me. I need help. So does my old lady. I can't stop, or stay stopped, when she's still using. I'm too weak." He asked my opinion, so I replied, "Well, I wouldn't say you're weak. It's just that everybody experiences the drug, and the addiction, their own way... different from everybody else. Just because one person kicked cold turkey doesn't mean that everyone else can." Dan considered this, "Hmm, yeah, I guess you're right. I need help. That's not a bad thing, I guess." Stella is a proud mother of six children. And she happens to smoke crack. She and her boyfriend have a camp under the expressway above us. "We've got a nice set-up. We even got us a table for sitting." She spends 15 minutes braiding my wife's hair while we chat it up. Linda (Bill's wife) used to sell lighting to commercial enterprises. She's been institutionalized, voluntarily and against her will, on several occasions. She's very religious, and she tithes and offers every month because "my pastor told me that if I keep giving, even when I've got nothing to give, then when I start slipping back, God will keep the devil off my back." Bill loves Linda. "She's beautiful," he says matter-of-factly, as though he's telling me that we're now standing on a concrete sidewalk.‚  But she never ever shuts up," he says with a laugh, "except when she's drinking." We've handed out the goods. The group seems fairly well convinced that I'm not out there to hassle them. I'm not there to get them to stop doing what they do. Now I ask, "Anything you need us to do here?" "Yeah," Bill says, "will you pray for us?" Silence. An icy vice grips my intestines. I'm shocked...and scared. He can't be serious. In all my years of doing street-level outreach, research, journalism, and documentary work, no one has ever asked me to pray for them. And I haven't even prayed since I was 8-years-old. In fact, I pride myself in part on being profane, on embodying profanity. I try to laugh it off, nervously. But no one else is laughing. So I stop the feigned chuckle and ask, "You really want me to pray for you?" Bill's earnest eyes stir something inside of me, an emotion that makes me want to cry. Everyone starts shuffling toward a huddle formation. "Yes, I do. Please," Bill says softly. "Okay." And here I go. I can't believe I'm doing this. I don't know what to say. Everyone's now moving in swiftly, concertedly, pushing their hands toward the middle. I've coached little league baseball for many years, and it occurs to me that I'm just leading a cheer, really. Guys who were lingering on the margins of the group have now moved, nearly a dozen people have crowded around. Bill looks up at me, supplication is the word that comes to mind. Drawing on some long-since padlocked reserve of divine worship, I begin speaking. I realize that I'm not praying to God for these folks. I'm praying to humanity, to a sort of American collective conscience, and maybe God is listening. I feel enveloped by a secular moralism that, to me, feels holy. "Heavenly father, we pray in your name, gathered here today, we ask for your divine mercy, we ask for your mercy and forgiveness, and we ask that you bless each step we take, the ground we walk upon, the souls that now live inside our bodies. We ask that you grant us the power of forgiveness...so that we may forgive ourselves and those who lack mercy and compassion. Please be with us, always and forever, dear God. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen." And so it went. Bill looked up at me and said, "That was the best prayer anyone's ever said for me. It's the best I've heard. It's the only prayer that's moved me in my heart." I don't know if Bill was putting me on. And I don't know why he asked me to pray for them. Was he testing me? Did he figure that I was just another "religion and rice" street corner preacher promising food in exchange for the acceptance of Jesus Christ (and an offering) and that I therefore would be most comfortable leading a prayer? Bill doesn't even believe in God. But it's clear that he believes in something. Later, while looking into an abandoned but highly trafficked building near Douglas Park, Erin and I talked at length about whether or not I should have agreed to lead the prayer. There's no clear answer. Not in my mind anyway. I ask you: should I have declined (politely) to pray for them? After all, I don't believe in God. And I am not a spiritual leader. I was there doing outreach and perhaps some journalism. Is it a breach of ethics to occupy, under "false pretenses," a position of spiritual leadership, if only for 90 seconds? I'm pretty sure I know why I agreed to pray, and I could give you a well-reasoned argument justifying it. But what would you have done? Would you have led the prayer?</p> Wed, 23 Jul 2008 16:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/gscott/2008/07/will-you-pray-for-us/354 Death and Life in The Brickyard http://www.wbez.org/gscott/2008/07/death-and-life-in-the-brickyard/352 <p><em>Editor's note: <a onclick="urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26721&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26721&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=352');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26721&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php');" href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26721">Watch a video</a> of Greg providing more background on The Brickyard, scenes of a resident working at the brick laying business. And, stay tuned for more videos from the community.</em> <a onclick="urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=352');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=352&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=352&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=352&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');" href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=26715">In my first story about The Brickyard</a>, I introduce you to some of the people, places, and things in this community of outlaws. Frank Deblasio, a 45-year-old father of two, has spent much of the last few years living in The Brickyard. Frank's death has cast into bold relief the basic principles of The Brickyard's culture. "Antagonistic communalism" is the cultural fixture that I try to expose. Approaching The Brickyard like this makes sense to me because Frank's death has prompted many other residents to take stock of their relationships, to assess and reflect on the way they treat each other. In the past week and a half many of them have concluded that they need to change their "outlaw culture"-they need to ramp up their communalism, a key component of their survival mechanism, and try to ratchet down times that they hurt each other, run game on each other, exploit each other. The people who killed Frank quite likely come from outside The Brickyard. Most certainly, the two people who "rolled" his dead body for $20 and a government-issued LINK card came from outside. As the police look for the perpetrators, though, Brickyard residents have begun closing ranks, helping the police find the killers, and keep something like this from happening again. But they know that it's going to be difficult for them to regulate behavior in The Brickyard.‚  After all, you can't regulate what you outlaw. This is why traditional law enforcement has had such a hard time achieving any control there. The residents exist outside the law so regulation is destined to fail. And The Brickyard residents know this, too. They know that even while they attempt to strengthen their relationships with each other, in the end the person who hurts them most may be the person they consider to be their closest ally. But does this really differ all that much from the "real world"? The real world. The Brickyard. Two apparently polar opposite places. But are they? Or do they just seem vastly dissimilar? Underneath the obvious differences I would argue that The Brickyard and "mainstream society" have more in common than you think. So now we get to the nub of the matter: The Brickyard's place in society. The discrepant features are mostly cosmetic. More on this issue in my next posting, but until then, tell me what you think: How different are mainstream society and The Brickyard? Or mainstream society and any "outlaw" culture?</p> Mon, 21 Jul 2008 10:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/gscott/2008/07/death-and-life-in-the-brickyard/352