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Advocacy Group Works To Get The Homeless Into Shelters With Chicago Temperatures Plummeting

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Help for the homeless is always critical in Chicago – and when temperatures plunge as we were experiencing Thursday, the cold becomes a life and death concern.

CBS 2's Tim McNicholas took us to Humboldt Park for a look at how one organization is doing its part.

As temperatures plummeted across the city, Jose Muñoz was doing everything he can to make sure some tents mounted outside are empty.

"We're trying to make sure that everybody who needs to shelter in place has access to stay warm," he said.

Muñoz is the executive director of La Casa Norte, a group that connects homeless people with food, shelter, and other resources.

"Right now, the frigid temperatures could be deadly for an individual who is experiencing homelessness," he said.

La Casa Norte's food pantry has already been busier than normal over the past few weeks, which Muñoz attributes to people struggling financially and missing work due to the COVID surge.

Those same factors, along with the cold, are driving people to La Casa Norte's shelters.

"I anticipate that yes, we're going to have more individuals that are going to be seeking services to stay warm over the next couple days," Muñoz said.

That means the group faces two challenges – helping all those people stay warm, and safe.
They're encouraging people to warm up not just at their shelters, but their drop in-centers where people can grab a meal and even use a computer if needed.

"We make sure everybody is using their masks and using hand sanitizers, and we're sanitizing the building frequently," Muñoz said.

Of course, COVID is still a risk. But Muñoz says the dangers of staying out in the cold are even greater.

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