CHICAGO (CBS) — It is a question many struggle to answer: why do the homeless choose to stay outside, even in this dangerously cold weather?
CBS 2’s Jim Williams found one woman on Chicago’s streets who rejects even the best intentions.
Under a viaduct in Hyde Park, under a mere comforter, is a middle-aged woman who calls a sidewalk home.
Her name is Christine. She tells anyone who tries to help that she is “doing just fine.” She tells it to police officers and good Samaritans like Debra Salter.
“She just refused any assistance. We tried in vain,” said Salter.
Christine even says ‘no’ to friends like Lisa Livingston and her husband, Gregory, a Baptist minister who works with the homeless.
“You don’t want to come home with us?” Lisa asked Christine.
Christine responded,”No, I’m doing fine.”
Christine and Lisa went to high school together at Kenwood Academy, right across the street.
Lisa Livingston says in high school Christine was an, “Awesome individual, as usual. Wonderful person. Very smart.”
She had no idea why Christine now prefers to live in sub-zero weather.
“I’m not refusing any help. I have my family and they do just fine by me,” said Christine.
Her friends confirm she has family nearby and they too have tried to keep her off this sidewalk.
There is evidence of kindness: food, coffee cups, Salvation Army blankets, but surely not enough to protect Christine in life-threatening cold.
“It’s just watching a person slowly pass before your eyes,” said Salter.
“I would say to anybody, if you haven’t had a problem like these people have, don’t judge them — just warm them, feed them and cloth them,” said Rev. Livingston.
Reverend Livingston said sometimes a homeless person’s personal pain is so great, they’d rather sleep in minus 20 windchills.
We talked to the city officials who told us they’ve made many efforts to help Christine often checking on her several times a day. They can’t force her to accept help…