5 emergency Chicago migrant shelters at parks to be restored for community, Mayor Johnson says

ByMichelle Gallardo and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, March 25, 2024
City to begin moving migrants out of Chicago Park District facilities
About 200 migrants in Chicago living in Chicago Park District shelters will be moved to new locations in order for programs to continue, Johnson said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A handful of temporary shelters for asylum seekers at Chicago parks will close and be restored to their original use, according to the city.

The Chicago Park District will begin to restore five parks across the Southwest Side, North Side and Northwest Side starting Saturday.

All shelter residents will be moved to nearby shelters in order to give the facilities back to the Park District, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced on Monday.

The district will assess and restore equipment at Gage Park, the Broadway Armory Park, Brands Park, Leone Park and Piotrowski Park.

"It is anticipated that full summer programming will return to those locations previously hosting programs," Johnson said.

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"We want a way in which we integrate the migrants into the community while also reactivating programming inside the Armory so youth and adults can use the facilities," said Hussein Mohammed, Edgewater resident.

In 2023, the city allocated a total of six parks for asylum seekers under the New Arrivals mission program.

In February, the emergency shelter at North Park Village was closed and used as an early voting site.

The transition of shelter residents will be a coordinated by the Department of Family and Support Services, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and Chicago Public Schools. Children are expected to remain in the same school during and after the transition.

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Residents in Gage Park also welcomed the news. They said the shelter hosing mainly single men that was set up at the Gage Park Fieldhouse has brought many problems to the neighborhood along with taking away services they used to rely on.

"It's frustrating to have a service that as a taxpayer I should have and I couldn't use it. It's frustrating that I'm right across the street and I see everything first hand," said Juana Galan, resident.

Ald. Ray Lopez praised the mayor for taking this step but also promised to hold him accountable.

"With the evictions a line was drawn, pulled back, drawn, pulled back, drawn, pulled back. We want this line drawn and maintained and the community will stand with us to make sure that the Mayor maintains that line," the 15th Ward alderman said.

Once everyone has been relocated, the Park District said it will assess what repairs need to be made in order to ensure that the full summer programming can return to all five locations.