Below Freezing: Over 100 Places to Escape the Cold in Chicago

Photograph By: Natasha Jelezkina | Source: Flickr

Seek Shelter and Resources During Brutal Temperatures at Warming Centers in Chicago

By: Integra Hopkins and Briana Castro

Warming shelters are a necessity in Chicago to keep citizens in need warm during the winter. 

And they were never more important than in January 2019, when the city reached a low of negative-23 degrees Fahrenheit and wind hills in the negative 50s.

City officials advise citizens to stay inside and seek shelter from the cold  but not all were able or decided to do so.

From November 2019 to mid-January of 2020, there were in total 21 deaths reported in the Cook County area due to the cold exposure.  In the Fall of 2018 to Spring of 2019, there were at least 30 deaths that were due to cold exposure. 

During the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018, 47 deaths were reported that were either due to exposure to the cold or partially cold-related. There have been over 250 cold-related deaths reported in Cook County since 2006. 

Flourish Graphic: Briana Castro and Integra Hopkins

A large  percentage of the cold-related deaths are homeless people.  According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Official figures counted just 5,657 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in the city in one day in 2016, the numbers do not account for even a percentage  of the total homeless population in Chicago. 

There is an estimated 16,000 unsheltered and at 60,000 sheltered  homeless. Homelessness affects a variety of citizens in Chicago such as adults, children, elders, and also an often forgotten portion of the homeless population, college students.

Flourish Graphic: Briana Castro and Integra Hopkins

Although warming centers are mostly for people who are homeless and lack housing, they can be used by anyone looking to seek temporary shelter from severe cold weather for various reasons. According to Keep Warm Illinois, warming centers also serve a purpose to help residents reduce the use of gas and their home heating costs during the day. 

There are 113 designated public buildings and bus centers that Chicagoans can seek shelter in. Six of the 113 warming centers are operated by Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services, which are open between the hours of  9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during weekdays when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. The Garfield Center (10 s Kedzie Ave.) is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide emergency shelter during any time or on any day.

A survey conducted with 3,000 college students revealed that about two-thirds are food insecure or have temporary housing at the City Colleges of Chicago. 

Two-thirds of the students were housing insecure and homeless, but just nine percent of those who self-identified as housing insecure or homeless utilized housing assisted. In the survey, housing insecurity is defined as having trouble finding consistent housing or struggling to pay rent, and homelessness is defined as not having a stable place to live. 

More than 2,300 homeless college students were identified through the FAFSA process for the 2015-2016 school year. According to All in Chicago, Chicago has the largest population of homeless students in the country behind California and Texas. Warming centers can provide homeless college students with temporary shelter from future cold snaps if they are not able to seek shelter on their college campuses, at their friends’ places, or with their families or elsewhere.

College students also have the option to Seek Shelter during the winter at Lincoln Park Community Services (LPCS). LPCS provides interim housing and permanent supportive/affordable housing to encourage those who are housing insecure to obtain housing and encourage them to make beneficial improvements to their lives. 

This image shows the history of the Lincoln Park Community Shelter.
Photograph By: Briana Castro

Lincoln Park Community Shelter is located at 600 W Fullerton Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614. You can find the hours of operation and more, click here

The Interim Housing Associate, Courteney Whittenburg states the importance of seeking shelter during brutal temperatures,

“Some people hesitate to come into shelters due to the screening process. Unfortunately, most don’t want to experience sobriety while staying warm inside. Their addiction takes over and would rather take the chance. Others just need somewhere temporary to stay and think we have visitation restrictions. Everybody has their own story, right? Some we will never know. It’s hard to ask for help, I see it every day. But we welcome everyone with open arms and do what we can. We are here for you.”

Courteney Whittenburg

Check out this cool timeline on the history of LPCS. 

Christian De Leon, an Interim Housing Associate with LPCS, said

LPCS provides interim housing and permanent supportive/affordable housing to encourage those who are housing insecure to obtain housing and encourage them to make beneficial improvements to their lives. LPCS is not just a place where the housing insecure could seek shelter, but be able to better themselves. There is an Interim Housing Community/On Track Program at LPCS to empower those who are facing homelessness or extreme poverty.

Christian De Leon

The Interim Housing Community/On Track Program at LPCS empowers those who are facing homelessness or extreme poverty. According to LPCS The interim housing community provides housing to 35 people year-round (24 men and women), which includes three meals a day, access to laundry and showers, and no limit on the length of stay if the individual is making progress. 

To be a part of the Interim Housing Community, the individual must be enrolled in the on-track program, which helps guests create goals to develop a viable future.   

De Leon said to qualify to join LPCS as a resident, applicants must be an adult (18 years-old and up) and must show proof of homeless must be provided, and individuals must undergo  a background check for screening purposes.

When participants first join the program, LPCS associates have  practice harm reduction (alcohol or drug reduction) to ensure they can progress through the plan the participants will build with their case managers. 

De Leon said the next step is to have them get some form of governmental assistance to help them become independent of the program. Lastly, participants who are ready, can secure their own housing outside of the program.

Lincoln Park Community Services just opened up their second location last summer, 1521 N Sedgwick St. This location has five floors that provides more housing opportunities to the public. The building has dedicated floors for women, men, and families. I am really glad to see the expansion of this organization and the people who truly benefit from the programs.

Christian De Leon
Venngage Infographic: Briana Castro and Integra Hopkins

If you need shelter, please go to a hospital emergency room or police station and call 311.

2020 Illinois Primary Election Just Around the Corner!

Are you registered to vote?

Venngage Infographic Made By: Briana Castro

The 2020 Illinois Primary Election takes place on March 17th, 2020. The Primary Electoral Vote will determine which democratic candidate will go against Donald Trump in the November Presidential Election. This election, like many before, can be the turning point in today’s democracy. The ability to vote as a U.S citizen is the most important and impactful political right to bring change to our society. Voting provides the opportunity for an individual to pick leaders that will support and implement change to important issues. Voting can be the way to make your voice heard. However, the media can be excessive and misleading so it’s important to do your research on the candidate before heading to the polls. Therefore, let’s try to encourage our communities to go out there and vote. EVERYY ONE COUNTS. If you haven’t registered to vote in the State of Illinois, you can click here.

Grocery Stores in the City of Chicago, 2013

SOURCE: City of Chicago Data Portal

Increasing food availability in what are considered “food desert” neighborhoods has been an urgent issue and remains a priority to the City of Chicago. Food deserts are typically defined as low-income areas in which a significant portion of residents live a mile or more from grocery stores and supermarkets.

According to this Google Map of grocery stores located throughout the Chicago-land area, it displays how the northern neighborhoods have at least 20 local top-chain grocery stores. However, as it moves further towards the South side of Chicago it drastically increases due to smaller convenient stores and lesser access to top-chain grocers.

These neighborhood convenient stores normally don’t provide the healthiest food choices for everyday consumption. High syrup fructose drinks, potato chips, candy, and the occasional fruit that has been sitting on a counter for days. As it moves towards the Ashburn and Chatham area, there is a high surplus of “Liquor and Food” stores within a four-block radius and food markets at every gas station.  

These convenient stores leave low-income, urban neighborhoods with lack access to fresh fruit and vegetables for adequate nutrition. Residents must travel over a mile just to get healthier food options at unfortunately, higher prices. Those who use public transportations as their main source of travel provides greater difficulty.

Grocery stores are necessary amenities. Over the last few years, Chicago continues to act on bringing more healthier and affordable grocery stores to urban areas.

Google Trends: Legalization of Marijuana in Illinois for 2020 and Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration Clashes with Illinois Primary Election Day.


On January 1, 2020, Illinois celebrated like no other. It was the first day that recreational marijuana was legalized, and the city was in uproar.  After decades of deliberation on whether to make marijuana legal, the law passed marking a new era in criminal law and daily life.

There were 37 marijuana dispensaries that opened throughout the state and anyone age 21 or older can purchase and possess marijuana.

Google Trends

According to an analysis of Google search on Google Trends, search results show the steady interest on Illinois Recreational Marijuana and Weed legalization in the last 90 days. Both trends experience a similar spike in the beginning of the year when the law passed. Since December, these searches have remained consistent throughout the U.S. region.

Here is another graph that displays how dominate the searches continue to remain in the mid-west region of the country with the focus on Illinois. According to an analysis of Google search on Google Trends, Illinois searched Recreational Marijuana at a staggering 100 percent on New Year’s Day. The rest of country also sparked curiosity of searching Weed Legalization.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, within the first 12 days of legalization, people spent nearly $20 million on recreational marijuana. Today, sales continue to skyrocket along with the crowds of loyal and enthusiastic customers continue.

Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration Clashes with Illinois Primary Election Day

Saint Patrick’s Day, a cherished holiday that’s enjoyed nationally, but for Chicagoan’s it holds great meaning. People from across the city gather together in celebration of the Irish holiday and heritage. There are boisterous pub crawls, cheerful crowds fill the streets, and the traditional dyeing of the Chicago River. However, most who attend this parade don’t truly care about the holiday itself but what’s mainly associated with it – DRINKING!

Google Trends

Yet, it’s election season! The primary election for Illinois lands on the same date as Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2020. According to an analysis of Google search on Google Trends, results showed over the last 90 days, a peak with increased searches regarding the Primary Election that happened on February 12, 2020. Politico reported this date was the deadline for only registered Democratic voters or independent voters to vote in this election.

As both events are only two weeks away, the graph shows how search interests switched dramatically to focus on Saint Patrick’s Day over the Primary Election. When it comes down to politics and debate, not everyone expresses their interests with the presidential debate.

Chicago holds the title for having the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the country. This graph shows the continuous increased interests of the holiday over the primary election. Not only is Saint Patrick’s Day is being searched locally but also remains high nationally.

Lebron James Switch to L.A. Lakers Boost Ticket Sales

The graphic displays yearly revenue of ticket/gate sales for the Los Angeles Lakers Basketball Team from 2011-2019 basketball season.

The Los Angeles Lakers are known to be one of the top franchise in the NBA and their ticket sales continue to reign. The Lakers team has held some of the greatest players in basketball history – Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neil, Jerry West, amongst other greats. With the contribution of their impeccable sportsmanship and athletic abilities, it led the Lakers to victory by winning 16 world championships. People everywhere fly to Los Angeles, California, not only for the team, but to indulge in the spirited atmosphere inside and near, The Staples Center.

Tickets sale prices from 2011-2019 have remained steady and high. According to ESPN, the Lakers only made it to the playoffs twice in 11/12 and 12/13 basketball season losing to the San Antonio Spurs. This explains the low-ticket sales at the time. Though the Lakers experienced a 6-year losing streak, the team was still able to sell out tickets at almost every home game. The last recorded time The Staples Center failed to sell out was in December 2006. The Staples Center holds great significance, honoring Kobe Bryant and where history is made. People everywhere enjoy being a part of that experience.

Following Kobe Bryant’s retirement from the Lakers, Lebron James made the decision to leave the Cleveland, Cavaliers to join the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2018/2019 season, ticket sales experienced an $8 million increased. Lebron James, 3-time winning NBA championship star, brought major attention and games continue to sell out immediately. The future looks bright for the Lakers team!

SOURCE CITED: McMenamin, D. (2013, November 14). Lakers’ sellout streak ends at 320. Retrieved from on March 2, 2020.

Hawaii Gas Prices Experience Spike in 2017.

For 2017, the highest average gas prices in the nation were in the west coast states plus Alaska and Hawaii. Gas prices were generally more expensive in the north and northeast than in the southern states.

The average person drives roughly about 12,000 miles per year. With the constant fluctuation of gas prices this can become a costly burden on those whose main source of transportation is their car. In 2017, gas prices range from $2.12 per gallon to $3.02 per gallon. These two endpoints represent the lower and upper limit of gas price by state in the United States for 2017. The state with the lowest January 2017 gas price is South Carolina (at $2.12 per gallon). Hawaii on the other hand has the highest January 2017 gas price at $3.02 per gallon. The difference amounts to about 90 cents. This is the actual range of gas price by state. The difference may be small, but in fundamental terms, this may be due to variations in price valuation. In actual terms, this implies that the January 2017 gas price for Hawaii is 42.45% more expensive compared to that of South Carolina.

In other words, consumers have to shell out an additional 90 cents in Hawaii to purchase a single gallon of gasoline – that same amount could have been used to purchase 42.45% more gallon in South Carolina. California has the second highest January 2017 gas price at $2.78 per gallon. Even then, gas in Hawaii is at least 8.6% more expensive compared to California.

Why does Hawaii have the highest gas price among the 50 states? According to Hawaii News Now, Hawaii lags behind the mainland when it comes to lowering gas prices. There are three factors why gas prices in Hawaii are among the highest in the country. The first one is its remote location. It costs a lot of money to bring gas in barges to remote locations (Kim, 2008). The second factor is poor competition. There is less competition in Hawaii as far as petroleum products are concerned. When competition is minimal, prices rarely go down. The third factor is the strong demand for gasoline (Kim, 2008). Demand for gas in Hawaii has remained strong in recent years which generally pushes prices to be higher.

Source Cited: Kim, L. (2008, Aug. 22). Why are Hawaii gas prices higher than the mainland’s? Hawaii News Now. Retrieved from on February 11, 2020.

Practice Post

Quinn: Pensions Threatening MAP Grant Programs

Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo/Bob Smith)

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”

“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.

“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously 

Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.

“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 

Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.

“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”

Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required.