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100 migrants move into vacant Woodlawn school despite local concerns

Migrants move into vacant Chicago school despite local concerns
Migrants move into vacant Chicago school despite local concerns 02:02

CHICAGO (CBS) – After months of pushback from Woodlawn residents, the city pushed forward with plans to convert a vacant Chicago Public School into temporary housing for asylum seekers.

CBS 2's Lauren Victory went to the school-turned-shelter where cameras captured the first residents heading inside.

Victory has been reporting on the plans to move migrants into the building since October, even though the city said then there were no plans to use the former school as a migrant shelter. CPS said back then the construction at the building was "routine maintenance work." CBS 2 reports then showed over $1 million spent on renovations inside.

Since then, neighbors have complained about a lack of transparency by the city, a sentiment that led to some drama when migrants arrived there on Thursday.

Luis Cardona is so strongly opposed to moving migrants into the school that he and another man stood in front of the CTA bus with migrants on board.

Victory: "What are you doing right now?"

Cardona: "They lied to use, letting us not know anything. So we're not letting them come in."

Cardona said he's upset because he lives by what's now the shelter and feels the building should be used for neighborhood activities.

Both men said they'd be willing to be arrested for blocking the bus, but that didn't happen.

Police interrupted CBS 2's interview with Cardona and asked him to let the bus with the migrants through.

Instead, Chicago police eventually routed the migrants a different way.

Chopper 2 spotted people exiting the bus in the school parking lot. They carried bicycles, belongings, and bags. The asylum seekers will be provided a place to sleep, food to eat, medical treatment, and other services.

That sparked criticism from neighbors who said the city should do more to help the homeless in the city.

At a recent meeting, the city said the initial move will involve about 250 adult men and women from other migrant shelters in Chicago, an effort to alleviate overcrowding at other locations struggling with space issues. On Thursday, a spokesman for Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said 100 men and women moved into the former school.

CBS 2 asked Lightfoot's office for a tour of the renovated school before the move in, but never received a response.

The shelter is supposed to be in operation at most for two years.

Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th), who's been critical of the city's handling of the building, released a statement condemning the move.

"Too often, the City of Chicago has pitted Black and brown communities against each other," Taylor said. "Mayor Lightfoot's administration has done just that through their lack of transparency and unwillingness to address community demands."

Taylor added a list of demands including turning the former school into a long-term community resource.

Small protest in Woodlawn as neighbors decry city's moving of migrants into vacant school 02:36
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