CHICAGO (CBS) — The new coronavirus is hitting all aspects of the world hard. The trickle-down effects are infinite. In the Chicago suburbs, dozens of homeless people could wind up on the streets, after church shelters shut down.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas looks at the heroic efforts to keep a roof over their heads.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Best Rain Friday Night
Heidi Meier is a jack of all trades. She usually rallies volunteers for Journeys, a Palatine-based non-profit that helps the homeless. But in a health pandemic, volunteers are scarce.
“Packing meals to deliver to the hotels, we typically … I’ve never done that actually,” she said.
You see, the people who will eat these meals typically get connected with homeless shelters and other resources through Journeys.
Thanks to COVID-19, many of the shelters Journeys works with are closed. So now Journeys is taking homeless people to hotels in a minibus.
As you could imagine, there’s a huge difference in cost between housing someone at a hotel versus a shelter. The staff says they need not just volunteers, but donations.
“I thought, ‘Why not get a fundraiser going?’” said John O’Neill, a student at St. Viator High School.READ MORE: Getting Hosed: A Look At The Universe Of Chicago Water, And Its Sometimes-Sordid History, This Earth Day
O’Neill and his classmates have already raised more than $1,000 through a GoFundMe, enough to put one person at a hotel for a few weeks.
“Now we’ve decided to make a new goal of getting two people into the hotel, so they can have shelter for three weeks,” he said.
A religious organization called the Clerics of St. Viator is donating $63,000; enough for 60 clients.
Thanks to those funds, the Taylor family has a shelter to stay in tonight.
Mom and dad lost their jobs months ago, and they’ve depended on the shelters that are now closed.
“If we didn’t have Journeys to help us, we really wouldn’t a Plan B, Plan A, none of that,” Eric Taylor said. “It means a lot.”
But the non-profit still needs donations to house about 40 more clients. Their journey continues.MORE NEWS: Shuttered By Pandemic Last Summer, Guthrie's Tavern In Wrigleyville Has New Owner And Will Be Reopening
Journeys also says, with the ongoing health risks, three weeks at a hotel might not be enough, so they might need more funds for longer stays.
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