At least 102 migrants seeking shelter from the snow are being housed at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Oak Park.
According to Rev. Colin Knapp of the Community of Congregations, the plan so far is that the families will stay until Saturday. Plans after that are not yet clear.
Good Shepherd is asking for donations. They need:
- cleaning supplies: disinfectant, alcohol wipes, paper towels, hand
soap, trash bag liners.
- food starting as early as Friday Nov. 3
- a church or organization that can provide showers and laundry
- transportation to such places as necessary
Village officials put an emergency response in place Tuesday night to address the increasing crisis over housing hundreds of asylum-seeking migrants in nearby areas.
“It is exactly what Chicago needs, for our neighbors to be good neighbors, for Oak Park to step up and open its borders,” said Crystal Gardner, an organizer with the Basta Ya movement in Oak Park. “And this can be a model for other municipalities, and the State of Illinois, in this humanitarian crisis.”
“I would love to see all of the affluent neighboring west suburbs open their borders,” she added. “They take [West Siders’] hard-earned dollars, through grocery stores, gas stations, shopping, they can help Chicago respond to this humanitarian crisis.”
According to village spokesman Dan Yopchick, a volunteer working with migrant families at Chicago’s 15th District police station called Oak Park officials at about 10:30 Tuesday night. They were looking to get people off the streets as temperatures plummeted and snow pummeled the area Halloween night. The station is less than one mile from village hall.
The volunteer said she was part of a group that provides tents to families, adding that they were worried about what would happen to the families if they were exposed too long to the cold. The lobby at the police station, they said, was at capacity.
Yopchick said that Oak Park’s police lobby is too small to hold that many people. Officials then put an emergency action plan into place. He said some were temporarily placed in a church at about 1:45 a.m.
Good Shepherd is now housing at least 102 people.
“We all have sanctuary status on every level – the city, the county, the state, so our neighboring municipalities need to respect that and open their borders,” Gardner said.
“And I appreciate Oak Park for being bold and listening to their constituents when they say – we support [doing our part] in this humanitarian crisis. There’s more than enough faith and resources in Oak Park, so I appreciate the village voting unanimously to begin the process of addressing now this humanitarian crisis. It’s a shared thing with the City of Chicago now. And I believe that the asylum-seekers will probably be served quicker and with a little bit more support and resources in Oak Park vs Chicago, because the city is bursting at the seams with asylum-seekers, with the unhoused.”
For those with questions or for more information, contact associate pastor Kerstin Hedlund at email@example.com.
GCM reporter Igor Studenkov contributed to this article.
Note 11-1-23: This article has been updated to add the location of the shelter, Good Shepherd, and Crystal Gardner’s comments.