City leaders hold West Loop meeting on migrant crisis

CHICAGO — Dozens of west loop residents living in the 27th ward came out for a meeting hosted by the city Wednesday night to talk about the future of migrant shelters in the area.

“We live in a incredibly blooming, prosperous part of the city,” said a resident at the meeting. “The least we can do is be generous with our space.”

As they’ve done in several neighborhoods now, city reps shared details on locations set aside as shelters to house the growing number of asylum seekers reaching Chicago.

“Our goal is to welcome individuals who are seeking asylum, which is protected by international law,” said Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Deputy Chief of Staff for the City of Chicago.

One of the newest migrant shelters is located in the 900 block of West Lake Street, where people started moving in on Tuesday, and more new arrivals are set to take shelter at a building located at 30 North Racine Avenue.

Unlike some of the other migrant related meetings, Wednesday’s gathering remained peaceful, but residents did bring up valid concerns.

One resident said an acquaintance of his, who is a lifelong resident of the City, is facing homelessness and having trouble finding a place to go.

He asked if she’d qualify to stay at one of the migrant shelters.

“So, she can’t get in and here’s people that aren’t American, never lived here, coming here and we’re going to feed them, give them laundry and all this other stuff,” the resident said.

More than 400 buses have transported over 18,000 migrants to Chicago since last August. Right now, nearly 10,800 new arrivals are living in temporary city shelters, while close to 4,000 asylum seekers are living inside and outside of police stations and O’Hare International Airport, while awaiting a more permanent place to stay.

In his budget address Wednesday, Mayor Brandon Johnson proposed $150 million to help migrants. During Wednesday night’s meeting, city officials said the state has already invested over $300 million, while the City has spent $67 million, and the federal government has contributed $21 million.

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