Season 2 Episode 1

By: Jesse Betend & Suzanne Hanney December 21, 2023
There are 50 wards in Chicago, but the 65,000 people who are homeless in Chicago make up a “51st ward.”

People turn to tent cities when shelters fail to meet their needs. Shelter capacity halved during the pandemic due to social distancing, and the system imposes restrictions on individual freedom.

Our reporting team (Jesse Betend, Suzanne Hanney and StreetWise Vendor A. Allen) investigate tent cities springing up across Chicago, interviewing everyone from Alderperson Maria Hadden to the elected “mayor” of Uptown Tent City, Tom Gordon. Erin Ryan, senior vice president of The Night Ministry, poses the question our team strives to answer: who’s responsible?