Hundreds spend night outside to help tackle homelessness in DuPage

Nearly 65,000 residents in DuPage County make less than the federal poverty level, and one in every five people struggle to meet needs for food or housing, according to a DuPage homeless non-profit.

Bridge Communities, which helps homeless families in DuPage County, transition from homelessness by providing access to housing services, is trying to tackle those issues.

Coming together to raise money to combat homelessness in the county, a group of a few hundred people braved the November chill, Saturday evening in Glen Ellyn, with the goal of increasing awareness about homelessness.

It was taking place just blocks from the St, Petronille Catholic Church, where, simultaneously, a group was readying themselves to spend a night outside in the church’s parking lot, a reality at least 650 people in DuPage county face every night, according to Bridge Communities.

The organization planned “Sleep Out Saturday,” a night for volunteers at more than 25 sites across the county to sleep outside by pitching a tent or sleeping inside boxes or cars

“It's supposed to be like being in solidarity with someone who's homeless; you experience one night of cold, whereas they live outside all the time,” said Mary Miller of St, Petronille Catholic Church.

Bridge Communities, according to its website, has helped 750 families pull themselves from homeless with more than $1 million raised since 2004.

At the fundraiser Saturday, an announcement was made that an additional $70,000 was going toward its transition housing program.