CHICAGO — Community members in Galewood are upset over a plan to house migrants inside an industrial building at 1900 North Austin.
There are several businesses operating here but residents said they were told a 3,000-square-foot vacant space inside would be converted to a migrant shelter next month.
The building is currently zoned as commercial.
“The governor’s emergency declaration allows us to retrofit spaces because of this humanitarian crisis and not have to fall within all the zoning restrictions,” Cristina Pacione-Zayas, the city’s deputy chief of staff, said.
During a city meeting on the migrant crisis Thursday afternoon, officials were asked about another commercial building in West Town identified as a possible shelter space.
The city says it is working quickly to get migrants indoors and out of police stations as colder weather approaches.
“We didn’t vote for our neighborhoods to be infiltrated like this,” Bryant Gallimore, a Galewood resident, said.
During the meeting, officials also spoke about a recent trip to the border and they continued to pressure the federal government help Chicago with the exorbitant cost of caring for new arrivals.
The city has requested $5 billion in funding. President Joe Biden’s current proposal is $1.4 billion, but officials said the House and Senate’s numbers being considered are less than half that amount.
The city renewed a $40 million controversial contract with Favorite Staffing, a company from Kansas City, to provide services at shelters, despite Johnson’s administration saying it had intended to replace the company with cheaper, local alternatives.
“It’s very hard to have a contract with someone who on the spot in an emergency, can deliver the kinds of things these companies are able to do,” Illinois JB Pritzker said. “So that is an expensive thing.”
From commercial spaces to a planned tent base camp in Brighton Park, the city is clashing with neighbors against migrants moving into their areas.
Pacione-Zayas said it would be irresponsible if the city didn’t have contact with staffing agencies.
Officials said they are trying to find as many brick-and-mortar spaces as possible, but it is difficult.