Chicago aldermen call for more transparency on migrant crisis spending after NBC 5 Investigates report

Favorite Healthcare Staffing has been paid at least $56 million since last October to provide care for the more than 13,000 migrants who now call Chicago home, records obtained by NBC 5 Investigations reveal.

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NBC 5 Investigates has obtained two invoices showing employees of Favorite Healthcare Staffing, which help operate the city’s migrant shelters, made at least $135 an hour.

In some cases, it was more.

One facility manager reportedly earned $14,000 in a week. An invoice for a nurse shows that person was paid more than $20,000 for a week in December. Both invoices did include overtime.

Additional records showed the Kansas-based company, Favorite Healthcare Staffing, has been paid at least $56 million since last October to provide care for the more than 13,000 migrants who now call Chicago home.

Aside from those records and the contracts that were provided to NBC 5 Investigates through public records requests, city agencies continue to withhold additional financial records that could better illustrate how hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to care and house migrants in the city.

Two Aldermen – Raymond Lopez and Scott Waguespack – discussed NBC 5 Investigates’ reporting while at Thursday’s council meeting.

During an interview, Lopez, who represents the city's 15th Ward, reacted by saying, “To see invoices like that are disgusting. They are outrageous and they are cause for an immediate investigation.”

He went on to say, “We are going to find out who has gotten paid, we are going to find out how much… quit stalling, clearly we are getting invoices that are eating up millions of dollars.”

Ald. Waguespack, of the 32nd Ward, said that council members do receive financial briefings but that they had not seen specific expenditures prior to NBC 5 Investigates' reporting.

On Thursday, council members approved additional federal dollars that are earmarked to address the growing humanitarian crisis. Waguespack said while alderpersons have been given briefings on future plans, the details have been less than forthcoming.

When asked if they have a specific accounting for where the money for migrants is going, Waguespack said, “No, we haven’t been. That’s the big concern that came up today.”

When pressed on concerns that his administration has not been forthcoming, Mayor Brandon Johnson re-iterated that his administration “is transparent.”

“So let me just make sure you are clear and everybody else is clear here – every single Monday there is a conversation with alders, who are part of a working group. Every Friday there is an email that is sent. So all the alders can see it. We have released information providing the details of the fact that when we have appropriated the first $51 million...I was the person that said that vast majority of that went to staffing,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said in response to NBC 5 Investigates’ question. “Now, if you are looking for more specific items – what do you want to know about? How much it costs for spoons or forks? I just want you to be very clear that we have released a very detailed response of how are addressing this humanitarian endeavor. If you are asking for us to do it on a more regular basis, of course we can do that.”

The aldermen we interviewed said they believe the information NBC 5 Investigates' requested should be released by the city.

As of Thursday night, Favorite Healthcare Staffing had yet to respond to our calls and emails seeking comment.

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