Chciago skyline
The Chicago skyline

Chicago authorities are planning to close five migrant shelters during the next weeks and are set to move some 800 people, families included, to reopen some park district buildings, ABC News reported on Friday.

The facilities are usually used to host summer camps, athletic contests and community events during the summer. When announcing the plan, City Mayor Brandon Johnson said the shelters were "no longer necessary."

"I am proud of the efforts of my administration, our partners, and the many Chicagoans who stepped up to welcome new arrivals by providing shelter in our Park District field houses at a time when this was clearly needed," Johnson said in a statement.

"We are grateful to the alderpersons and communities who have embraced new neighbors with open arms, and we are pleased that these park facilities will be transitioned back to their intended purpose in time for summer programming," he added.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson migrant crisis
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson JIM VONDRUSKA

The city hasn't specified when buildings will be reopened, saying only that the process will take several weeks. Volunteers working with migrants have said that residents of at least two buildings were told the moving will begin on Sunday. The goal is for people to be moved close nearby, especially those with children who are enrolled in schools in the area. There are about 20 other temporary shelters still operating in the city.

The decision is part of a broader shift from city authorities. Less than two weeks ago, they started evicting some migrants from other shelters, a measure that had been postponed three times because of extreme winter, staffing concern and backlash from advocates and elected officials.

Those evicted were redirected to the designated "landing zone," where they can reapply for a bed. Overall, 2,000 people are expected to be evicted from current shelters by the end of April, but the current figure is still under 100.

According to a city dashboard, more than 10,000 migrants are currently staying in city and state-run shelters, down from almost 15,000 in late December and January, according to the Chicago Tribune. Over 37,000 have made it to the city since mid-2022, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott began his "Lone Star" operation, which has been sending people to cities across the country, mainly New York, Chicago and Denver.

As the flow of migrants reaching the city continues at a sustained pace, the city has sought to limit shelter stays to 60 days, requiring them to find housing or apply for other shelters when the period ends.

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