Oak Park village officials tell migrants they must move out by end of January due to cost issues

Friday, December 15, 2023
Oak Park officials tell migrants they must move out by end of January
Oak Park migrants must move out of their west suburban housing and to Chicago by the end of January due to costs, village officials said.

OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Just three and a half weeks ago the Village of Oak Park agreed to allocate an additional $1 million to continue housing a group of 160 migrants that were brought in from Chicago's 15th police station during a Halloween day snowfall. With that funding set to run out by February 6, the village sent out a letter to the migrants Wednesday telling them they must move out by the end of January.

"They gave us the letters last night when we went to pick up our dinner," said Milagros de Marquez, who, along with her husband and three children, has been living at the Carleton Hotel for five weeks now.

The hotel, the local YMCA and Grace Episcopal Church are the three locations migrants have been living at in Oak Park, so far, it appears the 25 men located at the church may be safe in terms of housing, but those who support them wonder whether the wraparound services they get from the village will continue.

"Mental health, physical help, immigration help, all that is key to keeping these men healthy and sane as these winter months come upon us," said Doug Luce of Grace Episcopal Church.

In its memorandum laying out their decision, the village said, "The Village may be able to help asylum seekers relocate to another city or state if they have access to stable housing available in that location. If anyone is unable to identify another option, the Village will help individuals and families enter the Chicago shelter program in January 2024."

"What does that even mean?" wondered Betty Alzamora of Basta Ya Coalition. "I don't think it's that simple. Chicago is also at capacity."

Oak Park trustee Ravi Parakkat said the village stepped into a problem that is way bigger than itself.

"We are not able to create a long term path for these migrants. And we've done that at potentially the expense of them getting better service and better opportunities through Chicago," he said.

Dozens of migrants gathered in the parking lot of the Carleton Hotel in Oak Park Thursday night, working with volunteers to come up with a new plan.

"All of this movement all of this transition, it's impacting more and more the children who are being moved from school to school," Alzamora said.

Volunteers here hoping a regional collaboration between different organizations might lead to a better and timely solution to find a new home for migrants here.