Evanston police and health department officials say that despite recent bitterly cold weather they’ve seen no dramatic increase in homeless people needing emergency shelter or residents without heat in their homes.

Evanston police and health department officials say that despite recent bitterly cold weather they’ve seen no dramatic increase in homeless people needing emergency shelter or residents without heat in their homes.

Interim Police Chief Dennis Nilsson told aldermen Monday his officers have instructions to offer the homeless the opportunity to stay warm in the lobby of the police station overnight until they can be placed in emergency shelters.

He said St. Francis Hospital also lets people stay in its lobby on cold nights.

Health Director Jay Terry said his department hasn’t heard of any street population that can’t find shelter. He added that the department waives its usual strict numeric limits on how many people a shelter can house when the weather gets especially cold.

He said he’d spoken to the director of the Connections for the Homeless organization who said that group has not had any extrordinary requests for service in recent days. He added that Evanston Skokie Valley Senior Services is doing well being checks by phone on its clients who live alone.

Mr. Terry said that all public buildings in the city serve as warming centers during business hours — including the recreation centers and libraries.

Community Development Director James Wolinski said that tenants with inadequate heat in their apartments who don’t get a prompt response from their landlords can call the city’s property standards division at 847-866-2927 for assistance.

A city ordinance requires that rental apartments be heated to at least 65 degrees from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., to 68 degrees from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and to 63 degrees from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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