Chicago, IL

Thousands of Chicago Migrants Rush to Locate Housing as Evictions Loom Threatening Sense of Safety

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Migrants in Chicago face uncertain future amidst already limited stability

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Chicago is currently struggling with the growing migrant crisis that has left thousands in limbo, scrambling to secure housing and employment as mass evictions from city-operated shelters loom on the horizon.

Maria Cinfuentes, a 30-year-old mother of three from Venezuela, found herself standing outside Chicago's largest migrant shelter, her thoughts consumed with worry about her uncertain future. Having learned that her shelter stay, her only refuge since arriving in the United States last December, would soon end, she faced the daunting prospect of homelessness with no job prospects or support network in sight.

Cinfuentes is not alone in her plight. More than 13,000 migrants like her are feeling the pressure to find housing and employment before facing mass eviction from shelters operated by the city. Interviews with numerous migrants reveal a prevailing sense of fear and anxiety, particularly among recent arrivals who struggle to access rental assistance and obtain work permits swiftly. Many advocates express concern that not everyone will successfully transition out of the shelters, potentially leading to homelessness for some.

Against this backdrop of uncertainty, individuals like Daniel Vizcaino, a 20-year-old Venezuelan asylum-seeker, find themselves caught in a desperate search for housing and stability. Despite months of effort and assistance, Vizcaino remains without leads, facing the looming eviction deadline with mounting stress and uncertainty about his future.

The challenges extend beyond mere housing availability. Approximately 7,000 migrants lack access to rental assistance, intensifying the pressure to secure employment to afford rent. Complicating matters further, recent arrivals are ineligible for extensions of "temporary protected status," leaving them without the safety net afforded by deportation relief and work authorization. This leaves many migrants, predominantly fleeing political and economic turmoil in Venezuela, without the means to build a sustainable life in the U.S.

As Chicago prepares for the first wave of shelter evictions, concerns abound regarding the fate of those unable to secure housing in time.


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