In order to get migrants out of police stations before winter, Chicago’s mayor Brandon Johnson is erecting large tents that will serve as shelters.
Why it’s important Chicago is under pressure to discontinue utilizing police stations while it scrambles to find additional room to accommodate the city’s rapidly expanding population of new residents.
Meanwhile, some residents have been pushing back against temporary migrant housing popping up in their communities and questioning if shelters are overly concentrated in certain areas.
Driving the news: Johnson revealed parts of his new plan to address Chicago’s migrant crisis in interviews with the Sun-Times and ABC7 Thursday, but many questions remain.
Johnson said the city plans to move nearly 1,600 asylum seekers from police stations to “winterized base camps.” The mayor did not say where they’d be located, but that the city would take action “before the weather begins to shift and change.”
Details: Johnson said the tents could potentially house up to 1,000 people, but ideally it would be about 500. He did not say how exactly the city plans to pay for them, but told ABC7 he’s pushing for a real estate transfer tax to expand services for mental health and unhoused people.
State of play: Chicago currently has 18 migrant shelters across the city, with eight on the North Side, seven on the South Side, and three downtown, including the Harold Washington Library where about 50 migrants are staying.
City officials said this week they planned to move migrants to a hostel in Greektown and an office building in Fulton Market.
By the numbers: More than 13,500 migrants have arrived in Chicago since August 2022.
The city currently operates 18 temporary shelters, housing 6,841 occupants, while police stations and O’Hare Airport host another 2,011, according to the Office of Emergency Management.
The Inn of Chicago in Streeterville is housing the largest share, about 1,509 people.
Between the lines: Tensions have been rising in areas where migrants are housed in recent weeks.
Four migrants were arrested this week for allegedly threatening and assaulting officers in the Pilsen police station where they live, according to CPD.
Others were recently arrested for allegedly setting up a makeshift barber shop in a park between shelters in the Loop, Block Club reported.
What’s ahead: Johnson’s deputy chief of staff Cristina Pacione-Zayas, who’s leading the city’s response to the migrant crisis, told Axios this week that the administration is still “tightening” the details of a formal plan to address the migrant crisis.
The bottom line: Despite the rising pressure, Chicago has no plans to stop being a sanctuary city, Pacione-Zayas said.
“We are not only living up to it. We’re building an infrastructure to operationalize it.”