Chicago spent nearly $1M on failed Brighton Park migrant base camp, records show

State shuttered contaminated construction site due to environmental concerns

ByMichelle Gallardo and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, December 14, 2023
City spent nearly $1M on failed migrant base camp, records show
Records obtained by a FOIA request show how much money was allocated by the city towards the shuttered migrant base camp in Brighton Park.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New records obtained by the ABC7 I-Team show how much money was allocated by the city towards the shuttered migrant base camp in Brighton Park.

City records obtained through a Freedom of Information request showed more than $985,000 was spent through Dec. 5.

That was the day the State of Illinois put a stop to the project over environmental concerns.

The amount spent by the city is a fraction of what was spent on the base camp, which was being financed in large part by the State of Illinois through a $125 million dollar contract it signed with private contractor, Gardaworld.

"They knew as they were building this shelter before the environmental report came in that it was possible that the environmental report wouldn't allow the completion of the shelter," Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said. "They understood that and they were willing to take that liability through the state's contract."

READ MORE | Others step up to house Chicago migrants after base camp plan scuttled, Pritzker defends decision

Aldermen voted Wednesday in favor of an ordinance that would allow the city to impound buses that continue to drop off migrants at sites other than the designated landing zone at 8th Street and Des Plaines in the Loop. Two school buses, along with a group of OEMC officials, waited for up to eight more buses scheduled to arrive from Texas on Wednesday.

"It's not only a problem for the city in how we're receiving these buses in an orderly fashion, but for folks who've already made more than 1,000 mile trip to the city, which is already confusing and overwhelming to them," 1st Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata said.

According to OEMC, despite a sharp drop in the number of migrants living at police stations, there were, as of yesterday, still 354 migrants awaiting placement at four police districts around the city. These locations include District 12 on the Near West Side, where dozens of migrants wait to hear if some of them might be relocated to a shelter as soon as Wednesday.

Speaking after Wednesday's City Council meeting, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said the city is moving forward with alternate locations for migrant base camps.

While neither the Mayor nor the Governor would specifically identify any future shelter sites on Wednesday, Pritzker did indicate that they were close to confirming several unoccupied buildings owned by the Archdiocese of Chicago At City Hall.