Morgan Park residents raise concerns over city’s plans for migrant shelter at vacant lot

By Chicago 4 Min Read

CHICAGO (WLS) — Residents in Chicago’s Morgan Park neighborhood have been making their concerns known on Sunday as the city discusses a plan to create a migrant shelter there.

There’s certainly concern from some people living on the Far South Side as they say the city has failed to provide critical resources to the community before proposing a migrant shelter near the northwest corner of 115th and Halsted.

SEE ALSO | Chicago migrants from Venezuela, Ukrainian refugees receive very different receptions

That’s where some of the residents gathered on Sunday, making their voices heard in the old Jewel parking lot.

“The fact is, in the Roseland community, there’s crime, violence, gangs. It’s through the roof here,” said community activist Patrick Gibbons. “And, we need to protect our own people before we take care of people from the outside.”

The proposed plan for the migrant shelter there is part of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s hopes to offer a first stop for 1,000 incoming migrants. It would include massive heated tents.

The latest numbers from the city show over 3,000 migrants are waiting to be placed in shelters. Most of them are sleeping outside Chicago police districts, with new buses arriving every day.

But, the people living in Morgan Park say they want the city to provide critical resources for current residents, echoing the same message people have had in other neighborhoods that are being discussed as shelter options.

“The people here in the community, they’re afraid they’re going to lose jobs. They’re afraid there won’t be shelter for the homeless. And so, this is a big thing for this community,” said Pastor Anthony Wilson. “I don’t oppose migrants or foreigners. I’m not against that, but the citizens of Chicago come first.”

ABC7 reached out to 21st Ward Alderman Ronnie Mosely for comment, but has not heard back yet.

Previously, Mosely has said he’s open to the idea of tent base camps, but wanted to get more feedback from the community.

Adding to residents frustration is the lack of information, they say, on progress being made to redevelop the same lot into new housing and retail space called the Morgan Park Commons. The city shared these renderings last year.

The people at today’s protest said Mosely should focus on projects like that instead of this shelter.

“How can he protect people coming from the outside if he’s not protecting his own people?” Gibbons said.

READ MORE | Residents concerned about plans to turn Brighton Park lot into migrant ‘base camp’

Mosley has previously explained to his residents that $33 million in new federal funding can only be used toward migrant living costs.

The mayor is asking for around $200 million in the city’s next budget to help cover the cost, which is about $5.6 million a month.

The committee on housing and real estate is expected to vote Monday on the city’s proposal to buy the lot for a migrant shelter.

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