CHICAGO — It’s a crisis that’s dominated the headlines almost daily. More than 13,500 asylum seekers have poured into Chicago since last August, with many left sleeping on the floors of police stations across the city.
This all despite tens of millions of dollars being forked over to manage the ongoing humanitarian crisis, which begets the question — where are all of these funds being spent?
According to a Freedom of Information Act request obtained by WGN News, hundreds of invoices were uncovered that revealed a whopping $84.5 million already paid out since the first buses began arriving from Texas.
“We are spending money hand over fist to assist these individuals,” said Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th). “Yet we still have children, their parents, and the elderly sleeping on floors.”
The majority of the money already spent — $56.78 million — was paid to a company named ‘Favourite Healthcare Staffing,’ with another $12.58 million dolled out to ‘Equitable Social Solutions,’ a group who deals with housing and shelter.
More than $500,000 was also paid to ‘SkyTech Enterprises’ for security purposes.
But, in addition to what has already been spent, sources tell WGN News there is an additional estimated cost of more than $48 million in unpaid invoices, meaning the total amount of estimated expenditures, as of Tuesday, is in the area of $133 million.
“It’s abysmal, it’s shameful, and it’s sad,” Lopez said. “Despite all of the money spent on this issue … this is the best we have to offer.”
Lopez said the city needs to put together a plan that appropriately addresses an ongoing problem that is set to only get worse as time goes on.
“We have to stop playing for the moment and addressing this busload by busload,” Lopez said. “[We need] to begin making preparations — not only in this city, but this state — to address the fact we could see upwards of 50,000 migrant asylum seekers sent to Chicago and Illinois in the next year.”
According to City officials, $51 million in taxpayer money was allocated to the migrant crisis back in May, which accounts for about 38% of what’s being spent, while the remaining 62% of the balance is coming from federal grants.
“[City leaders] are relying on hope that the federal government will provide us the dollars to humanly care for these individuals,” Lopez said.