CHICAGO — Alderman Ray Lopez of the 15th ward appeared on national television to talk about the homeless issue at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport which he alleges Mayor Lori Lightfoot is ignoring.
“Homelessness is a problem we must address but making O’Hare Airport a homeless shelter for hundreds of people on a daily basis when we’re trying to welcome people, encourage tourism and bring people home, to only have them greeted by homeless people,” Lopez said.
Lopez continued to state that many homeless people struggle with mental health concerns, may be armed and sometimes not even clothed.
‘That’s something that doesn’t exude a lot of confidence from our mayor, in our city and clearly she doesn’t care,” Lopez continued.
Lightfoot made a statement shortly after the critique.
“The fact of the matter is, we have taken and will take the necessary steps to move people out of the airports. The airports are a different place, from the streets, from underpasses. It’s a secure location,” Lightfoot said.
Lopez also tweeted that there is at least 200 homeless people at O’Hare a night.
The Department of Aviation says through social media posts that it continues to make investments in services at the airport to ensure round-the-clock outreach to those sleeping and taking shelter at the airport.
Lopez joined WGN News to discuss these issues.
Some workers at the airport told WGN-TV the people are taking shelter in terminals 2 and 3.
One employee, a janitor at the airport, shared photos of piles of clothes in one of the restrooms.
The janitor also shared photos we can’t show of urine and feces in elevators and hallways.
He said he was threatened by someone staying at the airport with a knife and feels the problem is out of control.
The Tribune reported that the increase may be related to the fact that the number of shelter beds has decreased since the pandemic.