Chicago’s plan to turn a hotel in the Hyde Park district into a shelter for 300 migrants has angered locals, who pointed out at a contentious meeting on Wednesday that many local homeless people were left to sleep on the streets.
Chicago has seen 11,000 migrants arrive in the city since August 2022, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff Cristina Pacione-Zayas said at the end of June.
Many of them have been bussed from the U.S.-Mexico border by the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott.
He has sent 30,000 to Democrat-run cities including Chicago, Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles in a protest he says will end when President Joe Biden ‘secures the border.’
Chicago, like the other cities, has struggled to cope with the influx.
Migrants in Chicago have been housed since April in the city’s police stations, as well as other city-owned buildings.
On Wednesday, Desmon Yancy, the alderman representing the Hyde Park district, called a meeting to discuss the plans to turn the Chicago Lake Shore Hotel into a shelter, and told the agitated crowd he had only just learnt of the plan.
‘I was absolutely livid, and you guys are so hypocritical,’ one woman told the gathered aldermen, according to CBS News.
Another woman complained at the meeting that the local homeless people – the overwhelming majority of whom are black – were not being given help.
‘You’ve got 73 percent of the people homeless in this city are black people,’ she said. ‘What have you done for them?’
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless said in their 2023 report that 68,440 people were homeless – a 4.5 percent increase on last year.
The city says that at present 6,500 migrants are being housed in the 16 city-run shelters.
The goal is to get the migrants out of the police stations with overflowing lobbies, CBS reported.
Andre Vasquez, chair of the City Council Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, told the meeting that he sympathized, and understood their frustrations.
‘I understand exactly the sentiment,’ he said.
‘What I am saying to you is we’re all in the same city, so we all know that the black community hasn’t had that level of investment; hasn’t had that support.’
City officials at the meeting informed the community that some migrants have been housed at the hotel since the spring.
Now, the entire property will be taken over by migrants.
Emmanuel Jackson told CBS that he was angry his community had not been told.
‘I think it’s a basic issue of notification and respect,’ he said.
‘If these types of wide changes are being made in the community in which we live, we should know about them.’