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Concerns arise as Pilsen migrant shelter set to close

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CHICAGO — A shelter housing migrant families in the Pilsen neighborhood is set to close under two weeks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the migrants currently living there will end up back at a CPD police station.

The community-run shelter near 21st Street and Racine Avenue has helped hundreds of migrant families who have arrived in Chicago from anti-immigration states. It’s a place where many volunteers have said their goal is to help place them all into their own homes by the time doors close on Sept. 3.

“To date, we’ve already helped over 150 people get into homes who have come through this shelter,” said Anna DiStefano, a volunteer with Todo Para Todos. “For context, we’ve had maybe 250 residents total so, we’ve already helped more than half of our residents get into homes.”

DiStefano and Todo Para Todos — which translates to “Everything for Everyone” — is a part of a collective of people who came together to specifically help run the shelter at 21st and Racine, which is closing due to a mix of issues; lack of funding and volunteers, as well as insurance circumstances with the owner of the building.

DiStefano said her and others at Todo Para Todos intend to help all of the migrant families at the shelter, regardless of whether (or how long) the shelter stays open.

“We’re going to continue working on that goal over the next two weeks,” DiStefano said. “[And stay] in contact with former residents.”

In a statement, the City of Chicago said they have spoken with leaders from Todo Para Todos and Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) to discuss alternative resources to help place migrants, like the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and Catholic charities.

According to the latest statistics from the City, there are now more than 6,500 newly arrived migrants in shelters, with more than 1,400 awaiting shelter placement. Of those 1,400-plus, 1,200 are temporarily being housed at CPD district police stations around Chicago, while 214 are at O’Hare International Airport, and another four are at Midway International Airport.

According to Emma Shiki, a newly arrived migrant from Ecuador, Chicago has given her a place to live, clothes, shoes, food and many other necessities that she is thankful for.

“Chicago nos dio un lugar donde vivir, ropa, sapatos, comida,” Shiki said.

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