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Mayor Brandon Johnson to ask City Council for $70 million more in migrant funds

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CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Brandon Johnson will ask the City Council next week to approve an additional $70 million to cover the cost of providing shelter and other services to thousands of migrants.

The mayor's office confirmed Friday it has been briefing alderpeople this week on the request, which will be presented to the City Council Budget Committee on Monday. If the committee approves, the full City Council will take up the request on Wednesday.

The mayor's office said the funding would come from the city's Assigned Fund Balance Reserve, which is funded from previous city budget surpluses.

"This funding request is based on a rigorous analysis of arrival patterns over the past two years, ensuring that the City will be prepared should there be any sudden increases in new arrivals sent by Texas Governor Greg Abbott," the mayor's office said in a statement Friday morning. "This funding enables the City to provide greater coordination, collaboration, and resources dedicated to the Mission, and continue investments toward building a unified shelter system to provide care and support for anyone experiencing homelessness, both new arrivals and other Chicagoans in need."

The City Council budgeted only $150 million to cover migrant expenses as part of the mayor's budget plan for this year. At the time, Johnson acknowledged that it would not be enough to cover the city's costs for the whole year, but he said he would seek additional funding from the state and federal governments to help cover the city's costs.

In February, Gov. JB Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced they would seek an additional $252 million from the state and county to help the city respond to the migrant crisis. Pritzker is asking lawmakers for an additional $182 million, and Preckwinkle is seeking $70 million from the county board.

According to published reports, Johnson initially agreed to ask the City Council for $70 million during a meeting with Pritzker and Preckwinkle in January but later backed off before reversing course this week.

The mayor's office said providing shelter and other services to migrants cost the city $295 million between August 2022 and the end of 2023. Of that total, $72 million has come from the city's corporate fund, $80 million has come from state grants, and $143 million has come through federal grants.

As of Wednesday, more than 9,400 migrants were staying at city-run shelters in Chicago. Since the city's migrant crisis began in August 2022, nearly 39,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Chicago.

In March, the city began evicting some migrants from city shelters after finally enforcing a long-delayed 60-day limit on shelter stays. The city has granted exemptions from the eviction policy to migrant families with children, allowing them to stay in shelters through the end of the school year.

Since the city began evicting migrants under the 60-day shelter limit, 101 migrants have been moved out of shelters, according to city data. It's unclear how many of those have chosen to go back to the city's migrant landing zone to reapply for shelter.

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