CHICAGO (CBS) — The pandemic and the pandemonium that comes with it makes life harder for everyone. Especially struggling right now: Chicagoans experiencing homelessness.

With many support organizations working remotely, resources aren’t readily available.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us inside a solution that’s happening today.

Tyrone King’s tour was quick; bed, table, sink, but no toilet. His tiny studio apartment might not look like much, but “it’s mine.”

“That’s what I like about it. It’s mine,” he said. “I needed my own place.”

After 27 years without a permanent place, his new spot makes a heavenly home. What’s it like to sleep in a bed after all that time living on the streets?

“Oh, love it. All I did was ride the train, slept in doorways,” King said.

King, who also goes by Dale Riley, his “street name,” was able to secure housing through the Chicago Loop Alliance and Heartland Alliance, which have now formed an even bigger alliance.

Inside the Harold Washington Library Center downtown, Thresholds Homeless Outreach Program has set up a pop-up resource center, where their team bends an ear to those in need.

“Someone who’s willing to hear their story, or listen to their story, and then help them access resources that are really hard to access,“ Thresholds program director Sam Guardino said.

It’s been especially difficult during the pandemic.

A list of shelters, mental health services, and more needs constant updating with many resources gone remote.

The library’s controlled environment keeps people safe from COVID-19, and connected to services.

“It’s hard to do much of anything now without the internet. Applying for housing, linking the healthcare now. We don’t live in a world where you just can walk in,” Guardino said.

Though to be clear, walk-ins are welcome at the Thresholds pop-up resource center at the Harold Washington Library.

“It’s always been a popular place for people experiencing homelessness,” Guardino said.

One man stopped by after a friend found healthcare through the partnership.

Guardino recounted the success story.

“He had a Zoom, his initial meeting last week on Wednesday with his new primary care provider,” he said.

Back on the North Side, King shared that he waited four months for his humble abode; lots of patience and paperwork. Turns out he only needed help with the latter.

“Twenty-seven years on the streets, man,” he said.

Thresholds social workers will be on the third floor at Harold Washington Library every Wednesday morning. The Loop Alliance and Heartland Alliance host sessions every other Thursday at 1 p.m., including today.

 

Lauren Victory