Nov 16, 2023 - Politics

Gov. JB Pritzker announces $160 million for Chicago migrant aid

Governor of Illinois

Gov. JB Pritzker announces new funding for migrant aid Thursday. Photo courtesy of Illinois state livestream.

Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday announced $160 million in additional state funding for migrant aid in Chicago.

Why it matters: The new funds answer the city's pleas for more outside money the day after the City Council approved a budget allocating less than half of what officials anticipate needing to address the migrant crisis.

The intrigue: While the Illinois General Assembly signaled it would not vote on more migrant funding this year, Pritzker found funds within the Department of Human Services, which he says has a budget for wraparound services "for people living in the state of Illinois."

  • "We're being forced to try and solve a federal-sized problem at the state and local levels. Every day we contend with impossible choices about how to use already scarce resources," Pritzker said at a press conference Thursday.

How it works: Pritzker says the funding is aimed at "welcome, shelter and independence," earmarking:

  • $30 million for more workers to greet new arrivals and help them find housing, including more support for finding alternative arrangements beyond shelters.
  • $65 million to expand local shelter capacity.
  • $65 million to increase case management programs to expedite migrant paths to self-sufficiency.

Of note: The state is also reducing its rental assistance to new arrivals from six months of support to three months, starting Friday.

What they're saying: "The state that took my ancestors in fleeing from pogroms in Ukraine will not allow asylum seekers to freeze to death on our doorsteps," the governor said.

Between the lines: Pritzker's announcement comes on a day when the Chicago City Council's rules committee had been scheduled to vote on new language for a proposed "sanctuary city" referendum.

  • That meeting was canceled and hasn't yet been rescheduled.

What we're watching: Mayor Brandon Johnson is expected to reveal a suite of tougher migrant policies Friday.


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