This year's Chicago Sleepout for Homelessness will be virtual because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- Do you have a little bit of grit in you? How about sleeping outside in this brutally cold and snowy Chicago winter? Tomorrow, the annual Sleepout for Homelessness fundraiser will be held. It's a little different this year though, because of the pandemic. Hope Pavich from Care For Friends is with us live now. Hope, welcome.
HOPE PAVICH: Hi, thank you.
- Let's talk briefly about the homelessness problem in Chicago and about how many people have no place to stay at night.
HOPE PAVICH: So approximately this year 80,000 people will be experiencing some form of homelessness in Chicago. So that spans from something we call doubling-up to experiencing street-based homelessness.
- And in years past what you've done, as a big group, you've pitched tents, you camp out together. I imagine that this year is pretty different.
HOPE PAVICH: Yeah, as with everything else COVID has put a spin on the Sleepout for Homelessness. So this is our sixth annual sleep out, and in past years we have had fundraisers sleep out throughout the night to raise awareness and empathy for the experience of our homeless guests.
And this year we will be lighting a fire and staying out all night, but inviting people to do that at their homes and to drop by. We are going to be lighting a campfire at Care For Friends as well. But we're really encouraging people to practice social distancing, so it won't be altogether in tents. It will be at home in their backyards or on their porches.
- Do you have any other virtual options for people at home?
HOPE PAVICH: So we will be broadcasting our program tomorrow at www.cffsleeps.org. And we will be broadcasting the program, as well as inviting people to light a candle at home as well, and give a thought to those who are experiencing homelessness. Not just tonight, but every day this year.
- Hope, I imagine that just as this fundraiser is pretty different for you this year, the challenges facing our homeless community in Chicago are really unprecedented right now.
HOPE PAVICH: Yeah, they certainly are. Care For Friends, we provide fundamental resources to those who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. And so this year it wasn't just homelessness, but as everyone is aware food insecurity has been even more exasperated.
So we have seen folks who we would think of experiencing traditional street-based homelessness all the way to families who have never had to deal with food insecurity in the past. So it really spans what we see, the "face" of what you would think homelessness looks like. And it's just continued to be an even bigger issue than it was in years past.
- Hope Pavich, with the Sleepout For Homelessness. Thank you so much for being with us today. And to learn more about the Sleepout For Homelessness happening tomorrow, check out abc7chicago.com.