CHICAGO (CBS) — There are already about 500 men, women and children at the Pacific Garden Mission and the president says that number could double Tuesday night as more homeless people seek shelter from the dangerous cold.
“Our beds are full, but we’ve come up with alternative plans of putting people on floors with mats, blankets, beds, anywhere we could put people. We’re trying to do everything we can in this situation,” said Pastor Phil Kwiatkowski, the Pacific Garden Mission president.
As workers prepare to house hundreds of homeless people, many are already escaping the cold by spending time in the shelter’s day room.
William Hannah is one of them, but he knows others are still on the streets despite the dangerous cold.
“Some people, their pride is what keeps them away from coming to a shelter,” Hannah said.
That’s why volunteers with the night ministry spent the day trying to help people on the streets before it’s too late.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure that people know how dangerous the temperatures are going to be over the next couple days and also to let them know that the city does have shelters and warming places available,” said Burke Patten with the Night Ministry.
The group is also offering help in Spanish and even medical advice.
“They don’t have enough to keep themselves warm, their body temperatures are low now,” said Dr. Raph Ryan with the Night Ministry. “They need to get out and get warm.”
Still many refuse to seek help.
“I actually like to be alone,” said John Ortiz, who is homeless. “I don’t like to live with many other people. I sort of isolate myself.”
Omayra Velazquez is also homeless and offered a reason.
“It’s drugs. It drugs. Drugs take from us everything,” Velazquez said.
For those choosing to take their chances, the volunteers handed out thermal clothing, hand warmers, gloves, socks, hats, blankets and sleeping bags.
“We need it. We need it. We out here. It’s freezing out here,” Velasquez said.
Because of the extreme cold, Pacific Garden Mission will keep its doors open 24 hours and its president says they will not turn anyone away.