CHICAGO — A new migrant shelter is in the works at Amundsen Park in the city’s Galewood neighborhood and some residents in the area are voicing concerns about the plan.
The plan by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson would convert the Amundsen Park field house into a shelter that would house 200 people for at least six months, in order to help relieve the burden on the city’s police stations, where there are currently 2,300 asylum seekers awaiting placement. The facility would be the city’s 22nd migrant shelter.
29th Ward Alderman Chris Taliaferro said he received a phone call on Friday, informing him of the Chicago Parks District’s plan.
“When I spoke with the mayor she informed me we would have this shelter at this location and I strongly object to it and I object to it now,” Taliaferro said.
Taliaferro, the chair of the City Council’s Police and Fire Committee, warned that the recent increase in shelters is increasing tensions between the city’s Black and Latino communities.
“We can’t argue in one sentence, ‘Let’s provide opportunities for youth to get them to stop coming downtown’ and then take those opportunities away from the youth,” Taliaferro said in a statement released on Monday. “We can’t take these resources, especially in our underserved communities. This goes against everything that we’re trying to do to reduce violence.”
Concerned Galewood residents spoke out against the proposal during a community meeting held on Tuesday night.
“They have disrespected our community. They’re going to shove it down our throats and we’re supposed to like it,” Donald Glover, the Amundsen Park Advisory Council President said.
The Park District said it plans to move all youth and senior programming to Rutherford Sayer Park at 6871 West Belden, about a mile and a half northwest of Amundsen Park to accommodate the fieldhouse shelter.
Residents who have grown up walking to Amundsen Park and those whose children attend after-school care said they are frustrated.
“My son comes here every day after school because I have to work. I don’t have any help, this is what this park was put here for,” Danielle Hayes, a Galewood resident said.
Residents said they feel left out of the process and let down by elected officials.
“To Mayor Johnson, we are disappointed in you. This is the community that supported you. How dare you not sit down with us and talk about the decision,” Cata Turss, another Galewood resident said.
WGN TV News Mayor Johnson’s office about the specifics of the plan and is awaiting a response.