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Rahm has a point, but…

Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

* Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked about his willingness to host a thousand refugee children from Central America

“You have a thousand kids fleeing violence in Central America. This speaks to who we are as a city in welcoming them,” he said.

“My grandfather left Moldova in Eastern Europe. His parents put him on a boat to get away from the pogroms [and] leave the violence. Thirteen-years-old by himself. Not a word of English to come to a place called Chicago. He left the violence of Eastern Europe.”

The mayor added, “These kids are leaving violence. There are 1,000 kids. We are not only a city of big shoulders. We’re a city of big hearts and we welcome them and get `em on their way. And we will also make sure that the city of Chicago has universal pre-K, universal kindergarten, expanding after-school programs, expanding summer jobs because the test and measure of this city is how we treat our children.”

Emanuel said when he met with the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. to discuss the humanitarian effort, Jackson “made a point that I had not thought of: when [then President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt turned away the St. Louis and sent the Jewish kids back to Nazi, Germany.”

The comparison with his grandfather fleeing Moldova is chillingly apt.

But the fact remains that too many of Chicago’s own kids just aren’t safe in their city.

* And this is kinda mind-boggling

On the day a think-tank publicly released a report that says the Chicago Housing Authority has been socking away hundreds of millions of dollars instead of using it for housing for the poor, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has asked the agency to do more.

“Since HUD learned of the level of the reserves, it has prompted CHA to issue more vouchers,” said Brian Gillen, a spokesman in the Chicago office, in a written statement. […]

According to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability report, the CHA issued an average of 13,534 fewer Housing Choice Vouchers than it could have every year between 2008 and 2012. The vouchers pay the majority of the rent costs for apartments and houses for poor residents in the private market.

By not issuing the federally funding vouchers, the agency saved an average of $90 million every year over a nine year period. The CHA spent some of the federal dollars on other-housing related expenses, debts and obligations, but what was left over was put into reserves, which by 2012 totaled $432 million, the center’s report says.

How about using some of that money to “resettle” some Chicago kids into safer areas?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


46 Comments
  1. - Steve - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 9:43 am:

    Since progressives believe in public education: how about children from the west and south side being bused to schools on the North side? What a great way for progressives to show their tolerance for diversity and commitment to public education. How about a new big commitment to public housing and Section 8 vouchers in the Gold Coast?


  2. - Apocolypse Now - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    Rham is playing to the Hispanic vote for next April’s election. If Rham feels that strongly about sanctuary for children, why isn’t he reaching out to the children in violent situations in other countries around the world?


  3. - Amalia - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 9:53 am:

    the super vouchers that the CHA is handing out are a scandal. not only are they hoarding money, but when they spend money on super vouchers, they spend on one voucher what they could be spending on a few. and there are many in need of housing. where is the oversight of this program? what are the CHA board members doing about the money hoarding and the super vouchers?


  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 9:54 am:

    How in the world is CHA banking hundreds of millions of dollars? I’m glad someone in the media finally caught up with it, but where have they — and HUD — been while this was going on?

    Why do I get the feeling that this is just another scam from the great Daley legacy?

    –How about a new big commitment to public housing and Section 8 vouchers in the Gold Coast?==

    You want to bring back Cabrini-Green to the Gold Coast? Maybe these vouchers will make you happy.

    http://abc7chicago.com/home/cha-subsidizing-citys-priciest-rents-for-low-income-residents/225671/


  5. - chicago guy - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    Rahm’s looking to his past? Perhaps he would also like to bring some Gaza Strip refugees to Chicago? After all, his father, born in Israel, was not only a doctor, but a member of Irgun, an organization that used bombing and other tactics to force the British to set up a Jewish state. The UN, of course, finally did this. It can be argued that at least some of the Mideast problems stem from this period. So if Rahm is in a “look-back mode” maybe he’d like to help the people of the Gaza Strip also?


  6. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    The Mayor of Chicago needs to focus on keeping his focus on Chicago. The questioner asked a silly question and got a silly answer. The Mayor is a mayor and can only answer an international question as a mayor. He can’t pontificate on what he has no control over. All he can say is “welcome”. The Mayor is irrelevant on this issue, so the answer is too.


  7. - MOD - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    I completely agree that everything possible needs to be done in order to protect local children and all residents in the high-crime areas of Chicago. However, I disagree with the sentiment that helping these children who are escaping violence in their home countries comes at the expense of the local children. The funding for housing and caring for the unaccompanied child immigrants comes from the federal government, not the city. The point being made is Chicagoans should be willing to open there doors (and minds) as a city to help address a humanitarian crisis. Work still needs to be done to make Chicago’s streets safer, but you cannot expect to only address one issue at a time; you must think bigger.


  8. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    “…because the test and measure of this city is how we treat our children.”

    I imagine a lot of children and parents from Chicago’s violent neighborhoods would feel insulted by this statement.


  9. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    This reminds me of an old “Mash” TV episode when Hawkeye needs a sterilizer machine to clean the surgery instruments. The supply sergeant up the change of command would not issue even one of his two sterilizers, because his precious inventory would go down. Life and death combat surgery preformed by the 4077 MASH unit desperately needed a way to clean the very tools it required to save a wounded soldiers life and a supply person refused to help because of his own selfish interests.

    Or, perhaps, is it even more sinister? Like the episode in the movie Catch 22. Do we have an M&M Enterprises going on over there (snark)?


  10. - Citizens - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 10:41 am:

    Take care of our on people before we invite people from other countries. Some children in Chicago are living in a WAR zone with no where to go. Lets get that problem solved at home before we add more problems. It appears that nobody really cares about the children in Chicago. But we can give somebody $7,000 a month to house a person that is in the country illegally. This is a shame! When regular foster parents of Illinois/US citizens get less than $1,000 a month. Something has to change.


  11. - Federalist - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    A thousand refugees this time another 1000 another time and on it goes. Just for one city.
    This is what happens when our immigration laws are mocked and not enforced.

    There are tens of millions of parents who would like to send their children to the U.S. from nations all around the world.

    As to refugees, we allow some 90,000 refugees into this country each year, overwhelming from 3rd world countries who have no money, no skills, and do not know the English language. These are not the old concept of a few political refugees from the Cold War. Go to any city of any size and you will see them. Often ’sponsored’ by various organizations who bring them here, try to get them a part time job and direct them to government entitlement programs. After 90 days the sponsoring organization has no responsibility for them.

    This ‘refugee’ situation is out of hand but no politician has the guts to face it.


  12. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    –This ‘refugee’ situation is out of hand but no politician has the guts to face it.–

    Yeah, no one dares take on the power of the third-world refugee lobby. They just rule Washington.

    You know the great majority of those kids are going to get sent back, don’t you? It’s a done deal. Obama’s just looking for more money to expedite the process. He’s not going to stick his neck out for them, to his shame.


  13. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    I feel a lot of love on this thread.


  14. - Just Trying to Survive - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    ==the test and measure of this city if how we treat our children==

    It’s exhausting to always hear such grandiose statements using children as pawns. How about how the children in this city, Illinois residents are treated with school closings, gang warfare, substandard housing? How about OUR children? Charity begins at home. Get your own house in order. Sure sounds good though to bloviate about opportunities for fresh new children.


  15. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    === Charity begins at home.===

    And it ends there only for the heartless.


  16. - yo - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    Rahm is just pandering for votes in the election. Question is, is this an issue that will bring home Hispanic voters to him… that remains to be seen.


  17. - Earnest - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    That’s an awful lot of money that could have been moving through the Chicago economy at a time it was really needed, not to mention the people it would have helped.


  18. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    –Rahm is just pandering for votes in the election. Question is, is this an issue that will bring home Hispanic voters to him…–

    I don’t think the leaders of faith who have been saying the same things are pandering for Hispanic votes.

    If a tired, hungry, homeless kid showed up at your doorstep unexpectedly, I imagine you’d give him a glass of water, a bite to eat and let him rest a while you figured out what to do with him. What’s different here?


  19. - Education - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    Will Rahm hire more teachers to help educate these children coming from central America or will he already burden the system? If I was a Hispanic parent in Chicago, I would be livid that my child’s education will be compromised by the influx of these children. Classroom sizes will increase and schools already struggling will have additional burdens placed on them


  20. - Amalia - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    back to the CHA mess, it is quite important when one is looking to how Chicago residents are treated, to see how an agency designed to help those who cannot afford housing is operating. when there is a mess, it is infuriating. and it should be infuriating not because there is another group of people in need who may receive assistance, but simply because it is mismanagement of a high order. I’d hate to see the two stories conflated as I do not think it out of the ordinary that we would help those in need, including those who have crossed the border to flee violence and are awaiting a hearing.


  21. - John A Logan - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    Maybe HUD was saving the money so they can house these children with it.


  22. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    === Charity begins at home ===

    Ah, if we only had nickels from all of the folks who rarely volunteer, rarely make a charitable contribution, and then spew that drivel.


  23. - A guy... - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    Catholic Charities (and I’m positive other similar groups) are mobilizing on this issue. I have gotten several emails with organizational efforts on their part to provide a safe place in homes pending hearings.


  24. - Anon III - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    The Mayor wants to accept 1,000 refugee kids in Chicago. They will attend CPS at about $15,000 per child per year that CPS spends. That’s $15 Million, each year.

    Who will pay the $15 Million? CHA? The Feds? Don’t think so. Maybe another phone tax.


  25. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    Rahm is unbelievable.


  26. - Jay Dee - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    I’m doubtful the majority of children will qualify for refugee status. While they are fleeing high murder rates and crime, I don’t think they are specifically being targeted because they are part of a protected class. The law regarding asylum needs to be followed as it is currently written.

    That being said, the kids need to be fed and clothed; Lord knows they’ve gone through more than I could’ve at their age. I would prefer it be from private charities rather than the government because that’s true compassion. There is a middle path to be had here.


  27. - Jimmy - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    Looks like they’ve got enough saved to make a pension payment…


  28. - MickJ - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    Yellow Dog Democrat - The Drunk Uncles want to pretend they care about those needing help here so we will not think they are heartless bigots. Well, they do not fool me either (or Rich for that matter).


  29. - Peters Post - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    There is already a facility to house unaccompanied minors who come in through O’Hare Airport while they await immigration processing. This is not new as Rahm points out. I would think this type of aspirational movement of people will continue no matter the laws in place. Most of the current discussion is media driven. This doesn’t seem to be much of a crisis when looked at as a global concern.


  30. - One to the Dome - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    “How about using some of that money to “resettle” some Chicago kids into safer areas?” AMEN


  31. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    Pete, it’s 1,300 miles from Guatemala City to McAllen. TX, through a lot of rough and dangerous territory and in the company of some very bad men with guns.

    My guess is that if you’re willing to take that risk, you’ll take your chances with U.S. law.

    The hustlers down there have been selling these families a bill of goods about their chances at asylum — and they’re getting paid very well to facilitate passage. I imagine a lot of officials in Mexico have had their hands out, too.

    It’s the hand we’ve been dealt, let’s just play it as the kind of people we believe ourselves to be.


  32. - RealChicagoHousewife - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    The Federal Givernment only picks up the tab while the minors are in it’s care. The short term goal is to place the minors in the care of guardians living in the USA ( who may or may not be legally here) and that is when the cost shift occurs. Most of these kids will not be showing up for hearings much less deportation. They will be here to stay. We have huge problems with child trafficking and gang violence in this city and surrounding area. We have limited resources and very few jobs for teens as it is. What is the likelihood that these kids who are uneducated and don’t speak English are going to have a chance to succeed here? Sending these kids here sets them up for failure and the Chicago area up for more poverty and crime. If the Feds were serious about handling this well they would send the kids to States that have money and many low skill good paying jobs like Alaska or the Dakotas.


  33. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    Typical Rahm. Politics first.

    Particularly if it helps draw attention to something other than the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free living just a few miles away from him in his own city.

    We should help these children from Central America the best we can. And we should remember that we are not doing nearly enough for many of the children in Chicago.

    Never mind the schools or shootings. At least they will have new basketball stadiums, hotels and bike lanes.


  34. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    As to the CHA story? Disgusting.

    Instead of using that money to help serve the 40,000 families on the CHA’s wait list, they just…

    socked the money away and did nothing with it?

    That is more scandalous and negligent than anything in the NRI program, and more troubling than the earlier news CHA is paying for some to live in luxury high-rise buildings with rents of $2500 to $3000 a month.

    What the heck is going on over there?


  35. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    The CHA is ridiculous. It’s had leadership problems for years. Time for HUD to perform an audit and step in.


  36. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    Better yet, the Tribune and Sun-Times need to FOIA the holy hell out of their records and duke it out over which one can get the better stories. There’s plenty there! Sad that it’s taken this long to get some attention.


  37. - Belle - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 3:15 pm:

    This idea would be lovely if Chicago wasn’t such a dangerous place these days and if Rahm’s motives were not so obvious. His motive is as obvious as Mark Kirk and his comments yesterday about Israel.
    Chicago is sadly lacking money, a consistent school system, decent housing, and control of the gangs.
    I think taking on some of these children is a terrific idea. It would be amazing if some people want to step forward and agree to sponsor them. But, if the kids end up in Englewood or one of the other gang-infested areas, it may not be any better than where they left.
    As it appears right now since there doesn’t seem to be a plan, Rahm seems to be making a move for the Latino vote.


  38. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    = Looks like they’ve got enough saved to make a pension payment… =

    = Instead of using that money to help serve the 40,000 families on the CHA’s wait list, they just… =

    As a matter of fact, one of the things CHA did with thatsurplus was fully fund their own, private pension plan. CHA has the distinction of having the most fully-funded pension plan in the country…all because they refused to issue vouchers.

    Look it up…


  39. - Just Trying to Survive - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 4:42 pm:

    Belle perhaps said what I tried to say earlier. Our city sure has more than it’s fair share of problems, many of them problems for families, their housing and schools for their children. How many children are lost to gangs, drugs? How many children depend on the schools for their meals? Having a big heart to offer a welcome to these kids from Central America is a wonderful gesture. What will they be offered/guaranteed? We sure seem to have a large problem with our own city’s children and their all around well-being. Let’s not even talk about violence. “Charity begins at home” was intended to mean that Chicago’s children need Rahm’s big heart too, not that I need to hoard my nickels.


  40. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 4:55 pm:

    How many children will Mayor Emanuel, Reverend Jackson and Congressman Gutierrez be taking in to help with this effort?


  41. - Enviros-Anon - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 5:40 pm:

    “But the fact remains that too many of Chicago’s own kids just aren’t safe in their city.”

    We are not in a position to make the refugee children safe if we can’t make our own children safe on the streets of Chicago


  42. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 5:42 pm:

    Enviros-Anon, that’s a ridiculous statement.


  43. - Try n 2 survive - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 7:31 pm:

    It’s all Politics.
    There has been a steady influx of illegal immigrants into Chicago.Most spanish speaking illegal immigrants are moving into areas of the city that were once all African- americans,or in nearby hispanic communities, as well as some suburbs that did not want or welcome African-americans.Rahm is catering to the votes and $$$$. Not the citizens.Everynight I hear gunshots and sirens in my nearborhood.Those GUNS & DRUGS are not being brought into this city( or country) by Black people.Chicagos’ own kids are physically & psychologically being subjected to the same ills ,if not worst. I have compassion for those “kids” ,however, they will just end up melting in with the rest of illegals,who unfortunately somehow won’t speak or learn English after living here for 20 years or applying for citizenship but will pay a coyote $3-5000 to get their kids here. What a sham !


  44. - Try n 2 survive - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 7:38 pm:

    CHA has been doing this for years. HUD need to dig deeper.Check city & state subsidized projects list & agreements. You will see, the poor & low income are being used for the millionaires & politicians profit to get these gov’t funds.Don’t believe the hype, there is more to this story than what’s being presented. HUD needs to immediately seize control over CHA before they start “erasing” stuff.


  45. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 8:13 pm:

    Tryin to Survive:

    We did not replace a king with a messiah in 2011.

    Well, sometime Rahm used to act like he could walk on water, but I wasn’t fooled.

    So, if you are looking for the mayor or even City Hall with assistance from Quinn or the White House to solve all of Chicago’s problems, you are going to be disappointed.

    Look in the mirror, ask yourself if you are doing all that you can, and then ask the same of everyone you know. Then do what Rich shamelessly does: plug the organizations you give to and volunteer for on Capitolfax to let your virtual neighbors know they can do more than just complain.

    It isn’t just up to Rahm to ensure a more safe, just and sustainable community. Ensuring the common good is a responsibility we all share.


  46. - Realist - Tuesday, Aug 5, 14 @ 9:38 am:

    There is a troubling narrative growing in parts of the media that Chicago is just like these places in Central America. If it was (it isn’t), then New Orleans (which bizarrely escapes these comparisons in favor of much-safer Chicago) is simultaneously a lot WORSE than these places in Central America.

    Chicago isn’t even as dangerous as Mexico City. Quite embarrassing really.

    Some of the commentators – who obviously live in Chicago and haven’t strayed very far – should go live in these locales before they comment on how bad Chicago’s got it.

    The murder rate in San Pedro Sula is 18 times higher than Chicago. Real close huh? This is what saturated hyperbole over one city does to people, they lose all sense of objectivity and have a distorted view of the real world.

    PS: 1 doesn’t equal 100.


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