May 7, 2024 - News

Moving migrants out of the Loop proving difficult for city

Photo of the front of a hotel with a bus parked out front

The Standard Club in the South Loop is a shelter for single men only. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

The city has halted plans to transfer migrants from the Loop's Standard Club to a site in Bridgeport.

Why it matters: According to Bridgeport Ald. Nicole Lee (11th), city officials characterized the plan as an effort to move migrants from downtown before the Democratic National Convention in mid-August.

  • This marks at least the third time in recent months the Johnson administration has backed off a new shelter site after resistance from alders.
  • The city did plow ahead with a shelter in Julia Ramirez' Brighton Park ward, despite her opposition, but the state shut it down for environmental reasons in December.

Driving the news: The city canceled the Bridgeport plan after Lee announced strong opposition in a letter to constituents Friday, citing safety concerns over the industrial use and train-side location of the building proposed for the shelter.

  • "I was told that the [Bridgeport] location would need renovations [and] that they needed to get everything done and ready for a July 1 move-in ahead of the DNC," Lee told the Tribune.

The other side: The mayor's office did not respond to Axios' questions about that characterization or why the city is targeting Standard Club residents in particular for relocation.

By the numbers: Just under 8,000 people live in the city's 17 migrant shelters.

  • As of Monday, 630 migrants had hit the 60-day maximum stay and have been required to leave shelters, per city policy.
  • 347 got back in line for shelter placement.
  • 333 were readmitted, and 14 were given travel resources.
  • As of Tuesday, 24 people were awaiting shelter in the city's landing zone.

What's next: While shelter populations have fallen drastically from 14,500 in December, Mayor Brandon Johnson says the city and state are prepared to handle an uptick if Texas Gov. Greg Abbott again ramps up busing ahead of the DNC in August.

What they're saying: "We have been configuring an operation that allows us to have at least 15,000 beds available," Johnson said at an April press conference, adding that the state will be responsible for 2,200 of those beds.

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