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Hundreds of migrants could move into abandoned Woodlawn elementary school starting Monday

Woodlawn migrant center set to open this week
Woodlawn migrant center set to open this week 01:35

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The City of Chicago could start moving hundreds of migrants into an abandoned school as early as Monday. 

CBS 2 has been following the story for months, but now it seems it is actually happening. 

On Sunday CBS 2's Sabrina Franza saw some city-owned vehicles driving in and out, possibly making last minutes fixes before the week begins. 

The school, formerly Wadsworth Elementary School, is ready, the city says, to accept 250 migrants -- to start. At a community meeting Saturday, city officials did not answer neighbors' questions about a cap on that number. 

"It's not about black against brown it's about decently and orderly," said Kimberly Scott.   

The goal, city officials claim, is to keep the shelter in place for two years or less. And the city said the need has never been greater, that their homeless shelter system is at or near capacity, pushing the limit with at least 108 buses of new arrivals -- asylum seekers. 

"We want it to be a safe, cultural experience, as well as a healthy transition with resources, and there's nothing in this area for them to benefit from outside of what the city's going to put in that building," said Carol Waitse.

POD cameras have been installed on the outside of the old school, and the shelter is expected to have constant security with contracted officers guarding the entrances. Chicago Police are also set to monitor, and there will be an 11 p.m. curfew. 

Adult men and women are expected to move in to start. Chicagoans experiencing homelessness could live there, too.   

With all this in place, many community members are still hoping the city puts a pause on the plan before people start moving in. They are not so sure the city will only operate the space as a shelter for two years or less as promised. 

The city did promise to host monthly community meetings for the next three months and bimonthly meetings going forward to keep neighbors informed on the shelter's progress. 

"So, instead of having community meetings, we want public hearings," said Stephanie Crockett-McLean. 

"We know this is an emergency situation coming in, but how are you gonna get out?" said Waitse.

There is no word from the city on an exact time that migrants will arrive. A document passed out to community members just states it will begin the week of Jan. 30. 

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