Chicago/ Politics & Govt
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Published on June 13, 2024
Chicago Officials Face Backlash for Evicting Migrant Families from City SheltersSource: Facebook/Chicago Mayor's Office

The landscape of Chicago's migrant aid system is changing as city officials have begun the process of evicting entire migrant families from city-run shelters, according to the Chicago Tribune. Following the CPS school year's end, officials are moving to clear space in overburdened shelters, pushing dozens of families, children included, into uncertainty. This decision comes as a continuation of prior evictions which affected primarily single adults, intensifying pressures on migrant resources.

Mayor Brandon Johnson has faced criticism for these evictions, especially given the precarious situations these families now find themselves in. Despite city efforts to help families secure housing, the current landscape is flawed. "Going through this eviction process is stressful and very challenging for them," Alyssa Phillips, education attorney for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, told the Chicago Tribune, particularly highlighting the migrant children's unsettled lives. The city argues that the moves are a push towards independence, but this has left many, such as Virginia de Jesus, a migrant, and a mother, in a state of distress and confusion, uncertain of where to turn for help.

Johnson's administration maintains that its goal is to assist migrant families towards sustainable, independent living. In a statement obtained by WTTW News, Johnson defended the shelter eviction policy, reasserting that the city still upholds its promise of support to migrants. Brandie Knazze, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services, reiterated the commitment to wraparound services and case management for those on the brink of independence.

Since August 2022, over 43,000 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, have arrived in Chicago, leading to higher homelessness rates and straining resources. The city has expended approximately $150 million on migrant support, facing an ever-growing overlap of the migrant and homeless populations. Plans to combine the legacy homeless shelter system with the migrant shelters are unfolding, aiming to streamline operations despite potential barriers like necessary translation services for non-English speakers. "They’re at some really sensitive developmental stages in their lives," University of Chicago professor Darcey Merritt said, as per the hicago Tribune, emphasizing the pivotal moment for migrant children and the importance of educational stability.