Feb. 2, 2024 - The Village of Oak Park was notified by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC) today that it has been awarded more than $1.9 million through the Supporting Municipalities for Asylum Seeker Services (SMASS) grant. The Village Board unanimously authorized staff to apply for this new funding during its meeting on January 23 and the application was submitted the following day.
Previously, the Village has received $400,000 in SMASS grant funding that has been used in combination with $650,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding as lost revenue in the general fund allocated by the Village Board. That money has allowed Oak Park to operate its temporary shelter program for asylum-seeking migrants in the community since November 2023.
Approximately $1.24 million of the new award will be distributed to a local nonprofit entity so that it may operate a new temporary shelter in Oak Park through the end of June 2024. This shelter will not be a continuation of the Village’s current shelter program at the West Cook YMCA or The Carleton Hotel of Oak Park, as those sites are scheduled to be unavailable after February 29. Rather, plans are taking shape for a new shelter to be located at the former St. Edmund’s school building (200 S. Oak Park Ave.). That building is owned by the Archdiocese of Chicago and lease negotiations will now begin.
Additionally, the Village has planned for $360,000 in funding from its award to be used for legal services to assist asylum seekers in their application process for asylum, temporary protected status and/or employment authorization.
The Village will dedicate $300,000 toward funding short-term rental assistance for asylum seekers and $40,000 for administrative expenses associated with assisting asylum seekers in Oak Park.
Funds awarded through the most recent SMASS grant must be used by June 30, 2024.
Official information about the efforts to assist asylum-seeking migrants in Oak Park is available at www.oak-park.us/emergencyresponse23.
About Oak Park
The Village of Oak Park, located just nine miles west of downtown Chicago, offers a distinctive urban/suburban lifestyle in a thriving, multi-cultural community. Well-known for progressive values, tree-lined streets and bustling business districts, Oak Park serves as an ideal place to live, work and play. As a longstanding community of choice, the Village benefits from convenient access to local and regional transit, high-quality public schools, and arts and cultural attractions, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio and his acclaimed Unity Temple, which was recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.