Migrants could begin moving into vacant Woodlawn school this week

CHICAGO (CBS) — Plans are moving full speed ahead to open a migrant shelter in what was an abandoned school in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, and after a community meeting Saturday afternoon, neighbors have a better idea of ​​a timeline for the shelter to open. The city says it is ready to move in migrants as soon as Monday.

The school-turned-shelter, once Wadsworth Elementary School and later the University of Chicago Charter School, is ready for migrants.

But neighbors say they feel the plan was rushed with little community input.

“We were hearing them, but they weren’t hearing us,” said one neighbor.

At Saturday’s session at Hyde Park Academy High School, city leaders ironed out more details. To start, 250 migrants will move into the shelter. It will remain a shelter for two years or less.

But some believe Woodlawn just isn’t the right location.

“I’m just disappointed in how the situation was handled all around because they very definitely could’ve put them in Pilsen or Little Village, and it would’ve been much more well received,” said Justin Cosby.

The city plans on bringing in more resources to keep the migrant population safe, including 24-hour security, contracted security at each door, and Chicago Police Department monitoring of the perimeter.

The operation, the city says, has a cost of $5.5 million from FEMA and $20 million from the state. They are also asking for $50 million more from FEMA in 2023. It adds up to a would-be total of at least $75.5 million.

“You kind of have to be a little bit gullible to believe that they’re actually going to do their job and serve the migrant communities when they’re not even serving the current community that is here,” Cosby said.

The city has promised the community weekly and monthly updates on operations as they begin in the newsroom.

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