Chicago residents demand resources for South, West Side as city focuses on migrant crisis

Samantha Chatman Image
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Activists demands city fund underserved residents amid migrant crisis
EMBED <>More Videos

Chicago community activists are making their voices heard, saying that funding going towards migrants would be better spent on existing city residents.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A group of black homeowners and concerned residents are voicing their frustration over the city's handling of the migrant crisis.

The group believes funding going towards migrants would be better spent on existing residents of the South and West sides. They're calling on city leaders to shift their attention and dollars to struggling Black neighborhoods.

"For them to be sympathetic to their needs, saying it's a humanitarian issue crisis when Black people have had a humanitarian crisis for housing, employment and everything else," community organizer Jessica Jackson said. "How do we get pushed to the back?"

Those demonstrating Wednesday said the city has over-extended itself and should be putting the tens of millions of dollars earmarked for migrants into Chicago's most vulnerable neighborhoods.

"The South Side has been under-resourced, under-funded for years, for decades," Jackson said. "We have schools that need to be reopened."

The group said the city has abandoned its INVEST South/West initiative. It is a Lightfoot era program that was dedicated to reversing decades of disinvestment on Chicago's South and West sides, promising to align more than $2.2 billion through public and private funding.

"We are taxpayers. We are property owners," Jackson said. "Our money should be going to our communities, not supporting people who haven't put a dime into our communities."

The city has received more than 15,000 migrants since August 2022.

"We have no more room," community organizer Zoe Leigh said. "We have no time. No energy, no resources. We have no money. Y 'all are embarrassing Chicago as a whole."

According to data analyzed by the ABC7 I-Team, there are more than 20 active migrant shelters across the city, seven of which are located on the South and West sides.

"My response to that is this; whether it's one shelter or whether it's ten shelters, the South Side of Chicago is not made to house immigrants, non-citizens," Jackson said. "We're saying the facilities that are there for us, the money needs to be put into those facilities for us."

The mayor's office issued a statement about the group's concerns and the status of INVEST South/West:

"We are committed to continued investment for all residents, but especially communities on the South and West sides that have long experienced disinvestment. We are the City of Chicago, and our shoulders are big enough to support both new arrivals and those who have long called this city home."

The city said Mayor Johnson knows firsthand the impact of neglect on a vulnerable community. They said they will never stop investing in people -all people - and delivering the affordable housing, fully funded schools, safe streets and living wages that every person in this city deserves.

"Mayor Johnson, the Black alderman, alderwomen in this city, you will stand for the Black citizens of Chicago," Jackson said.