Mayor Brandon Johnson addressed business leaders at the Economic Club of Chicago Thursday night and is soon expected to brief Chicago aldermen on how he plans to address the influx of migrants and where to house them.
“I’m hoping to hear something when we have our briefings about how we are going to make these temporary situations and help these folks move to the next level and maybe get housing, get jobs, and move and continue on with their lives,” 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett said.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, the mayor’s plan is to move nearly 1,600 migrants from police stations into winterized base camps with massive tents before the weather changes. The mayor did not say where the camps will be, how much its going to cost and who’s going to pay for it.
Over in the Fulton Market District, 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. told NBC Chicago the city is considering an office building in his ward to serve as another temporary shelter.
“I do know it’s going to be families,” he said. “I’m setting up for a tour of the building so I can make sure it’s conducive for the community.”
The alderman learned about the proposed plan about a week ago. The nearly 50,000 square foot office building has five floors located along Ogden Avenue. Tom De Boer runs his business, the Chicago Card Club in the space.
“It’s actually pretty crazy,” said De Boer. “We only signed the lease a few months ago, we only finished the build out maybe a month and a half ago, as you can see we spent a lot of money doing that and now we’re suddenly being asked to leave—not okay with it.”
De Boer said he will take this issue to court if he has too.
“We have a lease that’s lasting for some time,” he said. “We have no intention to leave, if he attempts to build a migrant shelter above our heads then I’ll sue him.”
The Fulton Market Association hasn’t taken an official stance on the issue, but said there could be a problem with zoning.
“We have understood that the property in question under our read of the Chicago zoning code does not allow residents to live there,” said Fulton Market Association Executive Director Roger Romanelli. “The property is in a planned manufacturing district zoning area that is the city’s most restrictive zoning.”
At this time, the city said there are nearly 7,000 migrants in at least 18 city shelters, with approximately 2,000 still waiting to be placed into shelters.
“One of the biggest challenges is getting the federal government to come up with more money to help with this situation because we can not take on this burden,” said Alderman Burnett. “We don’t have like an endless pool of money.”