Update on New Arrivals and Homelessness on the NW Side

As most Chicagoans know by now, In the past year more than 24,000 new arrivals have come to Chicago by bus in an uncoordinated fashion, arriving from southern states with little communication. The federal government has done little to assist at a scale to match the scope of this human crisis. As we approach the winter months, the City has stood up 26 shelters, with far fewer people now taking temporary shelter in police station lobbies. Our local 16th & 17th district stations are now closed for use as new arrival “staging areas” and we still believe that nobody – including new arrivals and our longtime homeless neighbors – should be sleeping in police station lobbies. As background, many new arrivals are eligible for Temporary Protected Status and expedited work permits (i.e., they are NOT undocumented), however the paperwork and legal support needed for both can take months.

At the end of November, the State and City released new information and policies on this issue including additional State investment, additional coordination, and more accountability for rogue bus companies. A summary of these changes and my own concerns are outlined in this letter I sent to local volunteers in November.

We cannot thank enough our incredible local volunteers who continue to give up so much of their own time, money and energy in support of new arrivals staying at the 16th and 17th district stations – especially amidst so many unknowns and a lack of support from the City. This past weekend we honored their service with a certificate and breakfast.

Our longtime homeless neighbors, including many seniors with mobility issues, continue to struggle due to a lack of targeted local services and Chicago’s inadequate homeless shelter and service system. The current wait for shelter access is several days, at best, and people must travel miles from our area to access an emergency shelter. We are happy to report that Lutheran Social Services of Illinois in Portage Park is in the process of hiring three homeless outreach/case managers that will work locally and we will soon share information on how to make referrals and connections. We are grateful to have the constant service of the all-volunteer NWS Chicago Homeless Outreach.

Because housing is key for new arrivals and our longtime homeless neighbors, we are in need of willing landlords for both populations.

  • New Arrivals – Catholic Charities vets families to confirm eligibility. If you are or know a landlord looking to share housing leads for new arrivals, please contact Maria Quiroz at mquiroz@catholiccharities.net or visit this form to apply directly
  • Longtime Homeless – More information can be found HERE.

Our office will continue to liaise with the City, support grassroots volunteer efforts through food and financial support, and advocate to the City, State and Federal Government for more executive coordination and support.