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7 Things Migrants Should Know About Upcoming Shelter Evictions

By March 5, 2024March 25th, 2024Resources, Trending

Chicago’s 60-day shelter limits will kick in soon. Borderless answers questions on how to access community, city and state resources.

Photo illustration by Borderless Magazine
By March 5, 2024March 25th, 2024Resources, Trending

Chicago’s 60-day shelter limits will kick in soon. Borderless answers questions on how to access community, city and state resources.

For several months, Chicago’s shelter system has been mired in controversy. Dozens of migrants described inhumane conditions before a five-year-old boy died of sepsis at the city’s largest shelter. Despite the harsh conditions, migrants have relied on the shelter system to provide temporary housing as they navigate asylum and work permit applications. 

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Now, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration will start evicting residents as part of its 60-day shelter stay policy. The administration previously delayed evictions in the face of dangerous weather. Later this month, some 5,000 migrants will be forced to leave the shelters.

Borderless explains what resources are available for migrants facing eviction. 

1.) When will I be evicted from the city’s shelter?

Shelter staff have distributed eviction notices to residents over the last few months. The first wave of evictions are expected to start on March 16.

Earlier this year, residents expected to vacate the shelter between Jan. 16 and Feb. 29 were given a 60-day extension due to cold weather. If you were given a move-out date between March 1 and March 28, you should have received a 30-day extension from your assigned exit date. For individuals who received a 60-day notice on Feb. 1, your eviction date will be April 1, according to the city. 

2.) Where can I go once I have been evicted from a city shelter?

Many migrants have found alternative housing support from friends, family and local volunteers. If this is not an option, you can return to the city’s landing zone at 800 S. Desplaines St. to request another shelter placement. 

You can also visit an “Illinois Welcoming Center” (IWC) to seek additional assistance. However, these Welcoming Centers do not provide shelter. 

3.) What are Illinois Welcoming Centers? Can I go there for help?

The Illinois Department of Human Services partners with community organizations designated as Illinois Welcoming Centers to help new arrivals access state benefits and services such as federal food assistance or legal aid.

Many IWCs offer walk-in availability during business hours. Some locations require an appointment. You can find a complete list of Welcoming Centers and additional information here.

4.) What is ASERAP? Can I use it to get rental assistance?

ASERAP stands for the Asylum Seeker Rental Assistance Program. It’s a state-run program that covers up to three months of rent for asylum seekers. You are only eligible for ASERAP if you arrived at a city shelter on or before Nov. 16, 2023, and have not moved out of the shelter. If you have already been evicted from a shelter or are no longer residing in a city shelter, you no longer qualify for ASERAP.

If you live in a shelter and arrived before Nov. 16, 2023, on-site case managers can provide information on finding housing and applying for ASERAP. Be sure to ask the staff on-site if you can receive case management assistance or are eligible for ASERAP.

5.) Where can I get free food or a hot meal?

Borderless created a resource guide that lists where you can get free groceries or a hot meal in each of Chicago’s 77 Community Areas. Find out which Community Area you’re located in here and the complete list of food pantries and community kitchens here.

6.) What is the CityKey? What can I use it for?

The CityKey is a free ID issued by Chicago, regardless of your immigration status. It serves as a government-issued ID and can be used to prove your identity and verify residency in Chicago. This can help when applying for an apartment or opening a bank account with certain banks

The CityKey also serves as a public transportation card and public library card. It can get you discounts at participating businesses, including restaurants. 

CityKey cannot be used as a driver’s license or to travel at an airport. 

To apply for a CityKey, you must attend a CityKey event in person. You can ask your case manager at the shelter to notify you of upcoming CityKey events. The city does not currently have any CityKey events listed. 

To apply, you will need the following documents:

  • A document such as a passport, foreign ID or immigration document with your photo
  • A document that shows your date of birth
  • And a document showing you reside in Chicago, such as a letter from your shelter.

7.) What other resources are available to me?

There are a variety of community organizations, churches and legal clinics providing free-of-service help to new arrivals. A full list of resources put together by the city and state can be found here.

Many community-based organizations provide legal services to help with deportation proceedings, apply for TPS or asylum and access work permits. Here is a list.

Borderless Magazine created this map to show you where you can find different resources near you, such as free food, legal services and case management. Mutual aid groups can help connect you with immediate needs, such as food or cash assistance. Illinois’ Welcoming Centers can help you with wrap-around services, such as accessing federal benefits and immigration legal aid.