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Migrant shelter population drops almost 7 percent since late December

Thursday, Feb 1, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Block Club Chicago

Fewer buses have brought migrants to Chicago over the past few weeks, leading to a decrease in the number of people staying in temporary city-run shelters. […]

In the last week of December, there were as many as 14,900 migrants in 27 city-run shelters, with 45 people waiting at the landing zone and 255 people waiting at O’Hare Airport, according to data from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

As of Tuesday morning, there are about 13,900 people in 28 shelters in the city, with one person at the landing zone and 171 people at O’Hare, data shows.

Matt Doughtie, with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, said arrivals began to slow around the time Chicago had severe weather earlier this month, “anecdotally.”

Over the past week, Chicago has only received buses on two days, Doughtie said.

There’s more, so click here.

* Echelon Insights does polling for the Illinois Policy Institute and its affiliates. It scores a 2.6 out of 3 in FiveThirtyEight’s ratings system, ranking 27th.

Its latest poll is skewed White. 40 percent of respondents were White, compared to 31 who were Black and 22 who were Latino. Then again, turnout in Black and Latino wards last year was very soft.

* With all that in mind, here’s the IPI

New polling shows 69% of Chicago voters disapprove of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s handling of the migrant crisis, with only 23% approving with 8% unsure.

Johnson’s handling of crime saw 66% of voters disapproving to some degree, with half strongly disapproving. The Illinois Policy Institute poll of 800 registered Chicago voters conducted from Jan. 16-21 by Echelon Insights also found a majority of voters disapproved of Johnson’s handling of all six issues surveyed.

Overall, 29% of Chicago voters approve of the mayor’s job, up slightly from 28% in October. The share of voters somewhat or strongly disapproving of Johnson’s job grew from 50% to 57% since October. Nearly half as many voters remained undecided about him.

Toplines are here, crosstabs are here.

* The benefit of the House Speaker creating a “working group” to address the migrant issue is that members can point to that group when approached by the news media

State Rep. Mike Kelly (D-15th), whose district includes both Chicago and portions of suburbs just outside Chicago, has an existing migrant shelter in his district, which has not been problematic, a spokeswoman for Kelly said. The site is the former United States Marine Corps Reserve base off Foster Avenue. Kelly’s spokeswoman Katie Ali said the base is a unique site equipped with showers and other facilities to house large numbers of people.

She said Kelly is, “Excited to see what kind of solutions the working group comes up with.”

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch recently formed a House working group to craft a response to the recent spike in migrant arrivals, chaired by State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-17th) of Glenview.

“As chair of the House Democrats’ New Arrivals Working Group, I am beginning our work with the understanding that this situation is affecting every community in our state,” Gong-Gershowitz said in an email to the Journal & Topics. Tuesday (Jan. 30). “We know that communities are affected in very different ways, and even within those communities historically disadvantaged areas are facing additional strain.

“While so much of what drives migration is outside of our control, we need to respond collectively to the things we can control. My focus is on bringing stakeholders together for discussions on how we can best meet our communities’ varied needs.”

* Gov. Pritzker was asked today about new shelters and whether they should be in Chicago

Well, again, we have already identified one or two places with the Archdiocese, who have been willing to offer up some of their properties. And we’ve got to work through some details, but we’re close with one of those.

I have said to the mayor that if they will identify, and I’m talking about the city, identify places for shelters, we will fund them with the dollars that I allocated. And remember I made that decision that the $65 million that we could not put into the tent at the location where there was an environmental hazard, that we would dedicate that to other shelters so that we could accomplish the same thing, which is to have 2000 people that would be sheltered by virtue of state support.

However, we need the city to help out and and, on occasion, they have been willing to be a part of that recently. Obviously done a lot of work before that, but we need them to continue that work and even with Archdiocese sites, the city has been willing at least to let go of some of their normal processes in order to let us continue moving forward with the Archdiocese.

But still we need locations. We can’t just point at places and say you know, this is where we’re going. We need planning, zoning, we need to make sure that the communities the aldermen, etc. That’s all work that the city normally should do. And that’s what’s happening in places like Oak Park and elsewhere where there are shelters outside of the city of Chicago that the state is supportive of.

* More from Isabel…

    * WBEZ | A Pilsen medical center that treats migrants is furloughing workers: Lately, many migrants arriving in Chicago have come to rely on [Alivio Medical Center] clinic in Pilsen. This area is home to the largest city-run shelter where about 2,500 people are staying. As of Jan. 19, about half were children, according to data shared by the city. […] [Spokeswoman Terri Rivera] said a host of factors fueled the furloughs, including supplies becoming more expensive, COVID-19 money that is running out and treating fewer patients. Alivio’s CEO Esther Corpuz was not available for an interview, nor was anyone who could discuss the health center’s financials. But Igoe said information Alivio shared with the union shows that patient visits have increased since at least the summer and as of November surpassed 6,000 visits that month.

    * Sun-Times | 16-year-old asylum-seeker missing from West Loop found safe: CPD: A spokesperson with the police department didn’t disclose where Chiquinquira Iwa-Ruiz was found or who she was found by, but said she was “located safely.” Iwa-Ruiz was previously last seen on a CTA bus at Ashland Avenue near West Lake Street on Saturday.

    * News-Gazette | Ford County Board to vote on ‘no-migrant’ declaration: Ann Ihrke, chair of the county’s zoning committee, said the measure was sent to State’s Attorney Andrew Killian to examine the wording. “If there are suggestions (for rewording of the declaration), it will go back to the full committee and from there to the full county board,” Ihrke said.

    * NPR | For Chicago’s new migrants, informal support groups help ease the pain and trauma: Interviews with more than 30 people reveal the emotional toll migrants face, and the efforts of individuals and organizations that are trying to fill the gaps of a frayed mental health system. […] For many, their journeys here were terrifying. A young girl who fell into a river, her pregnant mother struggling to hold her small hand, so the current wouldn’t whisk her away. Women who were forced to have sex with gang members to get from country to country. People who walked over the dead in the jungle, or are wracked with guilt over the sick and injured left behind.


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