Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday that Illinois will funnel an additional $160 million to help migrants arriving in Chicago resettle, including $65 million to help the city launch temporary “winterized” shelters to prevent People sleep outdoors in cold climates.
The announcement came on an unseasonably warm day in Chicago in the 60s, but with temperatures forecast to drop as low as 17 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees Celsius) next week. Most of the approximately 24,000 asylum seekers who have arrived in Chicago since Governor Greg Abbot started sending buses last year They come from much warmer climates, leaving them vulnerable to Chicago winters.
Chicago and other American cities, including New York, have had difficulties housing asylum seekers as winter weather arrives and accommodate a growing migrant population. State officials said approximately 700 new immigrants arrive each week.
Similar problems could occur as winter weather approaches New York, which is struggling to accommodate a growing migrant population, and Denver, which was forced to relax its rules on how long migrants are kept in shelters during a recent cold snap.
In Massachusetts advocates for migrant families rely on airport lounges, hospital waiting rooms and churches after the state limited the number of beds at family shelters and offered few options for those facing Homelessness.
Illinois has already spent or committed more than $638 million to address the humanitarian asylum seeker crisis, officials said. Additional funding will come from the Illinois Department of Human Services. Chicago is in charge of housing the newcomers and has also spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to accommodate them.
Pritzker said the state has stepped in now because the city has moved too slowly. Chicago has come under scrutiny from immigrant rights groups, local leaders and residents for its handling of the crisis, which has relied heavily on volunteers.
“The city has been operating its own methodological process. And it hasn't moved fast enough,” Pritzker said at a news conference at a state building in Chicago. "We are intervening here to try to help and speed up this process."
Mayor Brandon Johnson, who took office in May, called it a legacy problem and the city is working to address it. Earlier this week, he announced new limits on how long immigrants can stay in city-run shelters and said more resources were coming from the state and county.
According to the city, approximately 2,500 men, women and children are waiting to be placed in city-run shelters and sleeping inside or outside police stations or at O'Hare International Airport.
Of the state's new $160 million investment, $30 million will go toward establishing an intake and welcome center to better serve those coming to Chicago who already have a place to stay with friends or family, or who plan to continue somewhere else. place. location, according to the governor.
Another $65 million will go to help Chicago establish a “winterized soft shelter site” that provides temporary housing for up to 2,000 people. State officials did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on whether this refers to tents or physical shelters.
And $65 million more will go toward services like rental assistance and help with paperwork, including work permits. The idea is to help people live independently as soon as possible.
Pritzker called on Congress to step up and address the issue.
"We are forced to try to solve a problem of federal size at the state and local level," he said.
Earlier this week, Johnson announced plans to limit shelter stays to 60 days . The city has used commercial spaces, hotels and park district cottages as shelters once migrants are moved from police stations. He did not offer details about what would happen if people did not have more permanent housing within that time frame. Johnson also proposed tents prepared for winter, but city officials have had difficulty finding a location.
Johnson and the mayors of four other cities they wrote to President Joe Biden earlier this month requesting more federal resources. Him and the mayor of Denver They met with the White House chief of staff and Department of Homeland Security officials the next day.
Biden has requested 1.4 billion dollars from Congress to help state and local governments provide shelter and services to migrants, following previous requests from Democratic mayors and governors.
On Wednesday night, Congress passed a temporary resolution to keep the government running , but did not address any of Biden's funding requests for the border. It's unclear if they will approve any local support (let alone the increase).