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Wicker Park Residents, Alderman Reach Out to Homeless During Cold Snap

By Alisa Hauser | January 6, 2014 9:59am
 Gary, a homeless man, walks in the cold around 6 a.m. Monday.
Gary, a homeless man, walks in the cold around 6 a.m. Monday.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — Extremely cold weather has driven many of the city's homeless to shelters, while others are battling the deadly elements — but neighbors are trying to help. 

Arturo Salinas, a supervisor at the city's 311 call center, said the city had 10 calls from people concerned about the homeless between midnight and 7 a.m.

The center has received reports of the homeless camping out under bridges, on the street and under viaducts and a landlord who wasn't providing heat to 15 tenants, Salinas said.

"Some don't want shelter, some will take it," Salinas said, adding that crisis workers from Catholic Charities comb the city and offer warmer options to those sleeping outdoors.

 Marcus Faletti and Kevin Govert have found shelter, according to several sources.
Wicker Park Homeless Update
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On Sunday, 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno helped Marcus Faletti, a 54-year-old homeless man, find shelter at New Life Church in Humboldt Park.

Faletti, who scavenges for scrap metal and junk, is a familiar face around Wicker Park and often hangs out near the park fountain.

"He was OK. I've been trying to get him to go to a shelter forever. I told him last night he had to go today. He was thankful and seemed relieved," Moreno said.

Moreno said he's storing the homeless man's belongings and shopping cart in his garage, not far from the park.

Around 5:50 a.m. Monday, a homeless man was pulling two rolling suitcases behind him as he walked near Wicker Park's Damen Milwaukee, and North avenues intersection.

Gary, who is homeless, said he had been "walking all night to stay warm" and did not want to go to a shelter.

If a homeless person is moving, like Gary was, the city transfers the call to police, who will try to track the person.

Early Monday, a homeless man near 100 East Lower Wacker Drive was transferred to the Franciscan Annex, a shelter at 2715 W. Harrison St., Salinas said.

In addition to a 24-hour warming center at 10 S. Garfield Ave and several city-operated daytime warming centers which open at 9 a.m., the Franciscan Outreach Association is offering extended hours at its daytime shelter at 1645 W. LeMoyne St. in Wicker Park.

More details on extended hours are posted on the organization's Facebook page.

Just before the cold snap on Saturday, Kevin Govert, another area homeless man, said a stranger gave him a new blanket.

"I'm a knucklehead, [and] will just put more layers on until I cannot walk," Govert said.

Govert, from Gary, Ind., said he used to live in Bucktown with his ex-wife and their son, who now live in California.

"I talk with [my son] all the time on the Internet at the library. That's the good thing about the Internet," Govert said, adding that his 12-year-old son is "the only thing I have left. He's upset that I'm out here."

Those working in the area also worry about the local homeless population.

"I be worried about them all. I let them come in here, get their hands and feet warm, will pay for coffee out of my own pocket if they are short," said Erika Jones, a night shift worker at 7-Eleven, 1500 N. Damen Ave.

Brian Earl, 26, a Logan Square resident who passes out advertisements for The Crocodile bar near the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection said he spoke with Govert on Saturday to make sure he had somewhere warm to go for the night.

"Too many people are concerned about him, he'll be OK," Earl said, adding that he thinks Govert went to a shelter.