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Military-grade tent basecamps for immigrants to cost Chicago $29 million

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said this will not fix the housing issues, especially during the cold Chicago winter.

Published: September 21, 2023 11:00pm

The city of Chicago has signed a one-year contract to provide shelter for migrants.

They will soon be moved to "tent cities," which will cost the Windy City around $29 million.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the city had signed a contract with GardaWorld Federal Services to provide tent housing for some of the arrivals.

Around 14,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago over the past year, and a large number have been living in Chicago police stations, YMCAs, and Daley College.

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said this will not fix the housing issues, especially during the cold Chicago winter.

"This a short-term, not-even-solution but a short-term answer to a growing problem, and I think it is inadequate," Ford told The Center Square. "I am concerned it will not be sufficient for Chicago's conditions."

According to the National Weather Service, Chicago, on average, sees 28-degree temperatures from December through February, which Ford said could result in Chicago having to change its plan.

"What could happen is ultimately the city could say now we have to put them all in hotels because it is too cold out," Ford said.

Chicago is expected to spend more than $250 million on migrants this year alone. Some lawmakers are seeking more transparency.

"I believe again we need to ask for transparency on this to make sure we are spending money the right way," said state Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, "Some of that is state funds that are being spent."

Ugaste said Chicago and the state need to start setting aside money with the proper assurance that their plans are working.

"We should not be spending any money without some oversight as to how it is being spent and whether it is creating the situation and providing the benefits we seek to provide when we appropriated that money," Ugaste told The Center Square.

So far, Chicago and Illinois taxpayers have set aside $94 million for migrant housing. The state budget has $550 million in taxpayer subsidies for the health care of migrants over the age of 65.

The arrivals have been housed throughout the city, mostly in police stations, while also occupying old YMCA buildings, colleges, and even the airport. Recently, Johnson said the city is looking at other towns in the suburbs to help with housing migrants. Friday, Alderman Andre Vasquez said Johnson briefed the city council on a new plan to house the migrants.

Many of the migrants have traveled from Texas after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began transporting migrants to Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., in response to President Joe Biden's immigration policies that have resulted in a surge of illegal border crossings beginning in August of 2022.

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