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Chicago officials want more local organizations to manage city's 18 migrant shelters

Chicago City Council members want more local organizations to manage migrant shelters
Chicago City Council members want more local organizations to manage migrant shelters 02:17

CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago officials hope to change the way migrant shelters are run in an attempt to save some taxpayer dollars, but also to keep more of the money they are spending on the crisis in the city.

The city has requested proposals from nonprofit organizations officials want to hire to run at least eight migrant shelters. It's a move that should mean they're spending less with their highest-paid, most controversial migrant vendor, Favorite Healthcare Staffing.

"A lot of the shelters are being operated by the same operators," said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th). "That's changing."

City officials said they just released a request for proposals.

Of the city's 18 shelters in operation, CBS 2 learned two of those were already run by community-based organizations. They're looking for six more that will be run the same way, for a total of eight, nearly half.

Vasquez said the change would apply to how the pre-existing spaces are managed.

The change would move money away from the Kansas-based healthcare staffing firm Favorite Healthcare Staffing, with which the city agreed to a budget of over $234 million between October of 2023 and October of 2024. The money would then go to Chicago area nonprofits.

The calls for change came as the City Council Budget Committee voted to spend an additional $70 million on the migrant response. The state and Cook County had already committed an additional $250 million combined to supply enough beds and supplies through the end of the year.

"The state is taking more than a majority of the cost," said Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday.

With the additional promise from the state, the city said Pritzker committed more than 2,000 new beds to be placed somewhere on the city's South Side, though it's not clear where or when those will arrive.

"But it will look like going forward, in the long run, its' creating a unified shelter system," Vasquez said. "So it's not just a migrant system and an unhoused system for those who aren't migrants, but one system for anyone who needs it."

CBS 2 reached out to Mayor Brandon Johnson's Office about the calls for change and to ask for details about the request for proposals process.

In a statement, the city said: 

"The City is shifting its New Arrival shelter network from a primarily City-operated system through Favorite Healthcare Staffing to a hybrid model with more shelters operated by contracted community-based organizations. This algins with the way the City's legacy homeless shelter network operates. The current RFP seeks applicants to operate six existing New Arrival shelter facilities."

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