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Chicago Ordinance Would Require Weekly Reports on Migrant Shelter Evictions

By March 28, 2024April 8th, 2024Immigration Policy, Trending

If passed by the full City Council, the measure will require departments to report anonymized data on evicted migrants’ age, gender and length of shelter stay.

Max Herman/Borderless Magazine
Aldermen Andre Vasquez, Chair of the Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, leads a meeting to discuss a new ordinance to increase transparency regarding migrant shelter stays that passed on March 28, 2024.
By March 28, 2024April 8th, 2024Immigration Policy, Trending

If passed by the full City Council, the measure will require departments to report anonymized data on evicted migrants’ age, gender and length of shelter stay.

Chicago’s Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights passed a measure on Thursday that would require city departments to provide weekly reports on migrant shelter evictions.

Officials said the ordinance aims to increase transparency over the city’s handling of shelter evictions and policies impacting new arrivals. The measure will go before City Council for a vote on April 17.

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“The ordinance we have introduced largely standardizes some of the existing reporting provided by the city…in a format that we believe helps in providing transparency, accountability and accessibility into the work being done related to shelter exits and conditions,” Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) said.

Under the ordinance, Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services, in coordination with the Department of Technology and Innovation, would be required to report weekly eviction statistics and biweekly reports of grievances filed at shelters. 

These reports must include anonymized data on migrants’ gender, age, shelter, length of shelter stay, extension requests and the final date for exiting shelter residents. The committee scrapped initial plans for daily reports after DFSS officials explained that daily reporting would be difficult and potentially inaccurate. 

“I would just appreciate the opportunity…[to] really craft an ordinance that we can follow through on accurately [and] get…data out there that is usable, and…not misleading in any way,” Jonathan Ernst, DFSS first deputy commissioner, said of the original draft. 

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) also called on the ordinance to include information on migrants’ country of origin to acknowledge migrants from the African diaspora.

The original ordinance also requested data on migrants’ eligibility for Temporary Protected Status and the state’s Asylum Seeker Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The decision to remove that information was because most migrants exiting the shelter do not qualify for rental assistance, while those who are eligible for rental assistance have received exemptions to remain in shelters, Vasquez told Borderless. 

But Vasquez said the outcomes for migrants who will be evicted and not eligible for state rental assistance are a large concern.

“If those folks don’t end up back in shelter or in a landing zone, [and] they don’t have rental assistance [or] can’t get work authorization, what you’re looking at…is an increase in homelessness and then the costs associated with addressing that,” Vasquez said.

The new ordinance comes as Mayor Brandon Johnson has faced a growing chorus of aldermen, advocates and migrants calling for an indefinite suspension of his 60-day shelter policy amid the ongoing migrant crisis. 

Johnson’s eviction plan, initially announced in November, was postponed several times due to inclement weather and a recent measles outbreak at the city’s largest shelter in Pilsen. 

Despite plans to evict thousands of migrants in mid-March, Johnson’s administration evicted just three migrants and announced extensions and exemptions for families with children at Chicago Public Schools and individuals affected by the measles outbreak. 

The last-minute changes to the 60-day shelter policy have caused confusion among migrants whose eviction dates are being changed days before their scheduled exit dates, Vasquez said ahead of a city council meeting last week.

“I can’t think or imagine what that has to feel like if you’re one of those families that are just trying to figure out and survive the next day,” Vasquez said.

The Johnson administration announced earlier this week that it would be shuttering five shelters inside Chicago Park District field houses, including the Gage Park, Broadway Armory Park, Brands Park, Leone Park and Piotrowski Park shelters.

Migrants in those shelters will be relocated to other shelters, according to city officials.

In recent weeks, fewer migrants have been arriving in Chicago. Many migrants have also left the shelter system since January. As of Thursday, about 10,300 migrants were living at a city-run shelter, according to city data.