Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday the state will spend an additional $160 million as part of an urgent effort to care for the more than 21,200 migrants who are at risk of dying on Chicago’s streets once winter weather settles over the city. [Health News Illinois]
Pritzker’s announcement, which will use funds already appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly for the Illinois Department of Human Services, comes after months of pleas from Chicago officials for the governor and state officials to take a more active role in addressing the humanitarian crisis engulfing the city.
With the federal government unwilling to act, Illinois has no choice but to step in because lives are at stake, said Pritzker, who blasted Congress for “abdicating” its responsibility toward immigrants to the United States amid a political fight.
“Everything we can do, we must do,” Pritzker said, adding that people must move through the system to permanent housing much faster. "The state that took my ancestors in fleeing from pogroms in Ukraine will not allow asylum seekers to freeze to death on our doorsteps."
The plan outlined by state officials calls for $65 million to be used to erect a temporary “soft-sided” shelter that could house some of the more than 2,400 migrants living in police stations across the city and at O’Hare International Airport waiting for a bed to open up in a city shelter, according to city data updated Wednesday morning.
No location has been identified for that shelter, which will house as many as 2,000 people, and be run by Chicago, Prtizker said said.
"Now that we are very close to winter, it is clear the city needs more help," Pritzker said.