Nov 17, 2023 - Politics

New migrant policies cut services to new arrivals in Chicago

tents in city

Mutual aid workers bring supplies to migrants living in tents near the 17th District police station in Albany Park. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

New migrants arriving in Chicago will be limited to 60-day shelter stays and no longer qualify for rental assistance.

Why it matters: These stricter policies mark a huge departure from previous rules, doubling down on caring for current migrants while making Chicago less attractive for new arrivals.

Driving the news: Mayor Brandon Johnson's office released the suite of tougher shelter rules on Friday, a day after Gov. JB Pritzker unveiled new cuts to state rental assistance for migrants.

What they're saying: With limited funds, the state decided "it would be better to stretch those dollars to reach everyone that's currently in the shelter system," Kirstin Chernawsky of the Illinois Department of Human Services said during a Friday press briefing.

  • "This allows folks that are making the choice to come to Chicago, versus another location, to know exactly the benefits that they will be receiving when they get here."
  • "Chicago is still a welcoming city and we haven't closed our doors," Beatriz Ponce de León, deputy mayor for immigrant, migrant and refugee rights, added Friday.

What's happening: The state, which announced $160 million in new migrant aid to Chicago this week, is reducing rental assistance for those already here to three months.

  • Those who arrive on or after Nov. 17 are no longer eligible for any rental assistance.

Meanwhile, about 50 people who have been living in a Chicago migrant shelter since last year will get a 60-day notice Friday.

  • About 3,000 people who entered a shelter between January and July of this year will get their notice on Dec. 4.
  • Those who entered a shelter between August and Nov. 16 will get 60-day warnings in February.
  • The city didn't say who would be responsible for removing people from shelters after their time expires.

Yes, but: Officials can consider extensions beyond 60 days in the case of medical emergencies and extreme weather.

  • Extensions may also be granted to those who've already signed leases and are in the process of moving.
  • Those who have reached their 60-day limit are allowed to reapply for a new shelter placement by returning to the city's official landing zone.

Plus: Chicago officials will now cite and fine bus companies that discharge migrants outside of the official landing zone and arrive outside curfew hours of 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

  • The city didn't say how much the fines will cost.

Of note: All migrants, regardless of their arrival date, are still eligible for medical assistance through Cook County Health, school enrollment help at Chicago Public Schools, and other resources via the Illinois Welcoming Center network.

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