Chicago takes steps to keep migrants warm ahead of colder weather

With the possibility of chilly temperatures and snow on Tuesday, the city said it is partnering with organizations to provide blankets, coats and other items.

As temperatures head toward below freezing, the city of Chicago has pushed forward to find migrant shelters, including a location for a second tent city encampment.

Individual tents have been erected outside the Chicago police station at 51st and Wentworth, where a number of asylum-seekers from the southern border are currently residing. Migrants staying at that site and elsewhere could be moved to tent cities, including one being built in Brighton Park and a second proposed in Morgan Park.

The vacant lot at 115th and Halsted, which was once home to a Jewel Osco, is on the drawing board as a potential site for a second base camp. A proposal to construct an encampment there cleared a City Council committee and awaits approval from the full City Council.

Ald. Ronnie Mosley, who represents the community, said he is frustrated by lack of information from the mayor's office regarding the proposal.

"What does housing look like for our own residents, who are houseless, who need affordable housing, are seniors?Those resources that asylum-seekers are getting in one place, our residents have to go multiple places for," he said.

With the possibility of chilly temperatures and snow on Tuesday, Johnson's office said it is collaborating with external partners, volunteers and mutual aid groups to provide blankets, coats and other much-needed items.

Warming buses will also be provided at the migrants' arrival location and 16 police districts across the city.

"in the meantime we're going to take every single measure to make sure that we're keeping people warm and keeping people said," said 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Johnson's city council floor leader.

The site of the potential tent city in Morgan Park previously secured $15 million in funding for a new development called Morgan Park Commons, even as the Walgreens across the street prepares to shut its doors in the coming weeks.

"Morgan Park Commons is significant because this area, the Far South [Side], lost 64,000 people, according to the census. That's 10,000 more than a ward. That housing development with commercial and retail space and also just open space and entertainment provides a catalyst."

On the city's West Side, two residents have filed a lawsuit against the city over plans to house hundreds of migrants at an industrial building located at 526 N. Western Ave. A third resident said he believes the move would drive down property values and jeopardize safety.

"It's not viable," he said. Flanked by two condo buildings. Single family homes right behind. Smith park is a block away. A liquor store right across the street. Our alderman Villegas suggested two other places."

For residents and organizations interested in providing help to migrants the city is working with a number of organizations and mutual aid groups to assist new arrivals. You can find a list of the organizations here.

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