Candice Payne is the South Side Chicago entrepreneur who spearheaded the effort in making sure nobody suffered in the bitter weather the city has been enduring this week.
Payne said she never wanted attention but as a brutal cold front swept across Chicago earlier this week, the city’s homeless were forced to survive in temperatures as low as 25 below zero with wind chills twice as low, and it was too much for her to handle. “I was crying,” Payne said.
Payne decided to spend her own money on hotel rooms for homeless residence with the goal of get as many people to warmth as possible.
Payne said, “I went on social media and asked people if they have vans or anything…Would anyone want to pitch in to help me to transport? [I said] I’ll pay them for the vans to come and help.” As her act of kindness spread, she was able to pay for 20 hotel rooms at Amber Inn before friends starting to pitch in tremendously.
She shared, “It went from us being able to provide 20 rooms, to us being able to provide 60 rooms. It was only going to be for one night, and it went from one night to four nights.” So far, Payne says her and her business partner Armez Spearman have spent $12,000 of their own money to help nearly 100 people stay warm and off the streets during bitter days and nights. “We’re not an organization. We’re just regular people,” Payne said.
She and her husband Carlos Callahan expresses that their effort was personal. Callahan told WGNTV, “I lived in my vehicle,” sharing that he had spent time living on the streets.
“People judge the homeless a lot. But you never know what these people went through. And I know for me, I wasn’t on drugs, I wasn’t in a bad situation at home. Things just happened.”
Now, Payne is putting together an online fundraiser to begin working on a more permanent solution.
“Of course we can’t solve homelessness … overnight,” Payne said. “But it’s cold in Chicago every year.”