CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “I walked out of my place on Sunday with just the clothes I’m wearing and an empty backpack to experience sleeping outside and living on the street for 14 days,” Warren Charter said.
Warren Charter started at Kaufman Lake in Champaign and has made his way into downtown Champaign so far.
We caught up with carter near the Illinois Terminal and asked him what that first night outside was like.
“You’re concerned about safety, concerned about finding a place that’s out of the way, you don’t want a lot of attention, you don’t want people looking in on you,” Charter said.
This experiment is all part of a bigger goal to raise awareness.
“Experience what they’re going through a little bit makes a big difference when you’re trying to help them get out and you’re trying to help them find you know the next solutions,” Charter said.
He hasn’t added any layers since Sunday, and says the snow has presented new difficulties.
“It’s a challenge to bob and weave around what the weathers going to do,” Charter said.
Rich McElroy has been homeless for 13 years.
He hopes charter’s journey helps gives people some understanding.
“He’s gaining knowledge of what it’s like and he’s trying to bring that focus to people that are not been through it,” McElroy said.
McElroy says it’s important to realize homelessness can happen to anyone.
“One stereotype for all homeless people, that’s impossible, people are what brought them to being homeless, many, many different reasons,” McElroy said.
“It’s a very challenging experience,” McElroy said.
Something Charter is starting to realize. Since he left home, he’s found 12 cents. That’s all he has to work with, for now.
“Your whole day is spent trying to survive and trying to figure out where am I going to hide my stuff, where am I going to get my dinner, where am I going to sleep tonight,” Charter said.
Charter is also trying to highlight resources in the community such as Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry.
Charter says the ultimate goal is…
“I hope to help bridge and connect everybody,” Charter said.