Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office refutes has belief of Alderman David Moore (17th) that warming centers in 17th Ward repurposed as migrant shelters to sooth concern among South Side Chicago residents
In the letter, Moore identified Thurgood Marshall Library, Ogden Park, and Marquette Park as locations earmarked for migrant shelters due to changing weather conditions. However, the Mayor's Office clarified that warming centers have never been considered as shelters for asylum seekers in the 17th Ward.
The Department of Family and Support Services opens its six warming centers when temperatures drop to 32 degrees or lower, with one location falling within Moore's ward. Additionally, city-operated libraries and park facilities can serve as warming centers during specified hours, weekends, and holidays.
Despite Moore's claims, the Mayor's Office assured the community that libraries and park facilities would not be used as shelters, emphasizing that no residents or programming would be displaced. However, residents point to the many other park facilities already being used as migrant shelters such as the Broadway Armory, Gage Park Fieldhouse and Leone Park Fieldhouse. Programming at these facilites were either canceled or moved elsewhere which could be hard for some neighborhood residents to travel to.
Moore did not respond to inquiries about the basis for his belief in the conversion of warming centers into migrant shelters. In his letter, he expressed frustration with the administration's perceived exclusion of alderpersons from decision-making processes that impact their wards.
This controversy arises amid Governor JB Pritzker's announcement of an additional $160 million in state funding to aid and house migrants facing freezing temperatures. The allocation includes $65 million for a "winterized soft shelter site" accommodating up to 2,000 asylum seekers. This initiative aligns with Mayor Johnson's plan to establish winterized tent camps in Roseland and Brighton Park.
As the city faces an influx of over 22,000 migrants and an ongoing need for temporary shelters, the debate over the use of public spaces intensifies. Many residents of Chicago have openly protested the use of public buildings that they pay taxes for but can't use for migrants who pay no taxes.