(CHICAGO) — Most of the $51 million approved by the City Council during a recent tense meeting will go toward paying a national staffing firm that is providing around-the-clock personnel at the makeshift shelters where recently arrived asylum seekers are seeking refuge, according to a city official.
Cristina Pacione-Zayas, first deputy chief of staff for Mayor Brandon Johnson, told the City Council’s Committee on Immigration and Refugee Rights during a Wednesday hearing that $47 million must be used to pay personnel, describing it as something they “inherited” that was not the best use of funds. Pacione-Zayas said the administration plans to seek request for proposals in July from Chicago-based organizations that could take over that work.
The city also spent funds on leases for spaces, meals, facility maintenance, rental assistance and transportation, Pacione-Zayas said.
As of Wednesday, 4,988 immigrants were staying at 12 makeshift city-run shelters, and an additional 650 individuals remained at police stations waiting for a shelter bed, Pacione-Zayas said. About 14 buses coming from Texas had arrived within the past 10 days along with other individuals who found their way to Chicago to seek safety, she said.
In total, about 11,000 immigrants have come through Chicago as they seek asylum in the U.S. Some are finding housing elsewhere with 551 immigrants leaving the shelter system in the past two weeks, city officials said.
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