Nov. 7, 2023 – Village of Oak Park officials continue to make progress in developing short-term housing solutions for a large group of asylum-seeking migrants who arrived in the community in the past week and have been staying at local churches.
The Village has reached agreements with the West Cook YMCA and The Carleton of Oak Park Hotel to provide temporary housing for virtually all of the 160 migrants residing at two local churches.
The Village’s efforts have been focused at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, where approximately 116 asylum-seeking migrants have been residing since the early-morning hours on Nov. 1. Since then, Village staff and community volunteers have provided around-the clock public health and safety services, language translation, meals and more. Good Shepherd officials generously committed to provide temporary shelter through Sat., Nov. 11.
Meanwhile, the Village is aware that approximately 44 migrants have been sheltering at United Lutheran Church in Oak Park for several days. The support at this location has been solely driven by volunteers to this point, but the Village understands this location is no longer available beginning today (Nov. 7).
In addition to the estimated 160 asylum-seeking migrants that are currently being supported Good Shepherd and United Lutheran, it is estimated that there are approximately 20 individuals in temporary shelter at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park. Calvary has committed to this effort, being run solely by volunteers, for approximately 30-60 days.
Transitioning the asylum-seeking migrants from church locations to temporary housing at the West Cook YMCA and The Carleton will add to the escalating costs associated with the Village’s ongoing emergency response.
For the six-day period between Nov. 1 through Nov. 6, the Village has accrued more than $40,300 in costs associated with housing migrants at Good Shepherd, with the bulk of those expenses coming in the form of security ($20,412), translation services ($15,840) and food ($3,705.38). The incomplete list of expenses does not include in-kind contributions related to staff salaries or overtime, nor does it include utility expenses at this temporary location.
The Village estimates costs for housing these individuals until Dec. 4, when the current emergency disaster resolution ends, to be upwards of $370,000.
On Nov. 6, the Village was notified that it would be awarded an additional $250,000 through the Supporting Municipalities for Asylum Seeker Services (SMASS) grant. That is in addition to the $150,000 in SMASS funding that was granted last month. During its regular meeting on Oct. 30, the Village Board also appropriated $150,000 from its general funds for the purpose of supporting asylum seekers in Oak Park, totaling $550,000 in available funding.
The West Cook YMCA has agreed to make one floor of 40 rooms available to women, children and families this week. Each room can accommodate up to three individuals and meet the Village’s standards for occupancy. The cost to the Village for these rooms, which will house up to 50 individuals in total, is $8,000 per month. That does not include costs for furniture, materials and additional services (i.e. maintenance or janitorial) that are required to shelter a large number of people in the space. Officials also shared that additional rooms for single males may be available at the YMCA on a rolling basis at a rate of $250 per month.
The Carleton Hotel will have 13 rooms available this week with additional rooms ready later this month. The initial block can accommodate up to five (5) individuals per room and meet the Village’s standards for occupancy. The cost for each room, which is available for up to 28 days, is at a discounted rate of $80 per night. Stays at the hotel cannot exceed 30 days due to tenants’ rights, which could allow persons to overstay without additional funding in place.
Wraparound services, managed by Housing Forward, are expected to include daily staffing for assessment, intake and service coordination, as well as volunteer management, behavioral health support, transportation, laundry services and program administration. The organization is expanding services to support both their efforts to assist the current unhoused population in the community, as well as to support the ongoing effort to aid asylum seekers.
The Village of Oak Park is asking those interested in volunteering to sign up for Oak Park's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Click here to learn more or sign up for CERT. Volunteers with an interest in medical emergency response can apply to serve with the Oak Park's Medical Reserve Corps - click here to sign up for MRC. For more information about volunteering, call 708.358.5700 Monday-Friday between 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
More information about the efforts to assist asylum-seeking migrants in Oak Park is available at www.oak-park.us/emergencyresponse23.