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With another migrant shelter opening, some at meeting demand more attention for Chicago's unhoused

Migrant housing, needs of Chicago homeless addressed at heated meeting
Migrant housing, needs of Chicago homeless addressed at heated meeting 02:37

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As migrants continue to arrive in Chicago, the city is scrambling to find more housing options – with the latest temporary shelter opening in Pilsen.

New migrant shelter opens Tuesday 01:41

Five more buses arrived in Chicago on Monday alone.

As CBS 2's Marybel González reported Monday night, the meeting addressed asylum seekers - as well as Chicagoans struggling with homelessness.

With winter quickly approaching, the concern expressed at the meeting was what is going to happen with people sleeping outside and at police stations. However, not everyone agreed with how the city plans to address the issue.

The heated meeting took place at Benito Juarez Community Academy, 1450 W. Cermak Rd. The purpose was to discuss the new migrant shelter opening up Tuesday.

CBS 2 reported last week on plans for the new facility at 2241 S. Halsted St. It will house up to 400 families with children, with plans eventually to expand to 1,000.

"People are looking to Chicago to see if we are going to handle this; if we are going to be able to stand firm and say we are a welcoming city," said Beatriz Ponce De León, Deputy Mayor of Immigrant, Migrant and Refugee Rights.

This is the latest shelter to open up. Right now, there are 23 operating in the city.

The need is only growing as more migrants are expected to arrive in the next few weeks.

"The fear is that we may have an average of 25 buses per day if that pattern continues," said Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th).

City officials said other sanctuary cities like Denver are now diverting migrants to Chicago.

"Most other cities have closed their doors and maxed out," said Ponce De León.

At the meeting Monday, the concern was not so much how the city plans to help the new arrivals. But more so how they will help those already living here – especially those who are unhoused or on the brink of being so.

"It seems like there is less of a limit for migrants that are coming in, as opposed to the ones who have been living here for decades," one man said.

"We are doing a lot. I don't want to undersell how much we're doing," another said. "The fact is that we could be doing more, and we should be - and it shouldn't be one or the other. It should be both."

As winter approaches, the city says it plans on adding 200 shelter beds for those who need it.

"We need to get them in before the cold gets here," a meeting participant said. "We need to open the churches. We need to open the synagogues. We've got to help these people."

We also learned Monday night that the city plans on opening another migrant shelter – this one in the Galewood neighborhood.

The alderman there called for a meeting Tuesday to oppose the move.

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