Candice Payne, a real estate broker from the South Side of Chicago, paid for 30 hotel rooms for over 100 homeless people to be sheltered from the extreme cold last week.
Temperatures fell as low as -50 degrees with windchill in the normally Windy City. Twenty-three people across the country have died as a result of the cold, including children, elderly, people seemingly on the job, and even a man sitting at a bus stop.
“It was 50 below, and I knew they were going to be sleeping on ice and I had to do something,” she said on Saturday.
She posted on Instagram that she needed help transporting people to the hotels from “Tent City,” a place where the homeless have been gathering for years. Social media not only responded with transportation for the homeless, but donations to her Cash App account to help.
She put care packages together them, and they were housed and fed until Sunday. People heard about the good deed, and also called the hotel to help pay for more homeless people to stay, doubling the rooms to 60 occupied.
“We don’t get that type of help,” Jermaine, one of the homeless men, said. “I really needed them at that point, so they came right in time.”
Julie Dworkin, director of policy for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimated that there are 80,000 homeless in Chicago, including people who are staying with others because they have no home of their own.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of homeless differs and uses a Point-in-Time survey, which recorded 5,450 unsheltered homeless individuals in 2018. Ninety-four percent of homeless individuals are Black.
The governor of Illinois called Payne to thank her.
She said she didn’t think that something like this was attainable, but after seeing people jump into action, she said, “We can all do this together.”
She has received an outpouring of support, with some calling her a hero for saving lives:
I am a regular person. It sounds like a rich person did this, but I’m just a black girl from the South Side. I thought it was unattainable, but seeing this tells me that it’s not unattainable. We can all do this together.” Candice Payne is a hero. https://t.co/tkpiwOU05q
Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 3, 2019
Meet Candice. Candice a Shero! Candice Payne started it all, ‘impulsively charging 20 hotel rooms on her American Express card after realizing how dangerous this week’s sub-zero temperatures would be’.” pic.twitter.com/rBajNioDtj
COMMON (@common) February 2, 2019
#CandicePayne deserves a shout out for her acts of goodness and kindness.
Thank you Candice.
Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) February 3, 2019
Chicago woman rented hotel rooms for the homeless during deep freeze