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Gov. Pritzker: City has not moved fast enough to provide more shelter for migrants

Pritzker criticizes City of Chicago's handling of migrant crisis
Pritzker criticizes City of Chicago's handling of migrant crisis 00:41

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday accused the city of not moving "fast enough" to ensure migrants have shelter – and he said that is why people have been seen on the street. 

Pritzker said the State of Illinois has been offering assistance, and holding up its end of the deal.

"The city's been operating its own methodology process, right? And it hasn't moved fast enough," Pritzker said. "So we've done a complete data analysis of everything that's happened really for the last 14 months to determine exactly where the bottlenecks are, and so we're bringing our resources in to try to flatten out those bottlenecks, make sure that people are moving through faster, and make sure that the city is building shelters faster."

Pritzker emphasized that the state does not run shelters, and they are the city's responsibility.

"We've been absolutely encouraging the city to find brick-and-mortar shelter," Pritzker said. "I'm not criticizing, I'm just suggesting that now, here we are. We're right up against winter and very cold weather and we want to make sure that no one is left outside."

Pritzker said the state has been working with the city from the beginning, and has spent more money to assist migrants than the city has.

"I also would say that, to the extent that the city is looking for dollars and not assistance, then it needs to go to the General Assembly and make the case for that in Springfield," Pritzker said. "They have not done that. They did not do that."

Pritzker went on to say the state is going to be more aggressive in its effort to get things under control in Chicago with the migrant crisis and the need for shelter. Mayor Brandon Johnson was not at the news conference with Pritzker.

Pritzker made his comments as he announced the funding for Chicago's migrant crisis. His announcement came one day after the Chicago City Council passed Mayor Johnson's budget plan for 2024, which includes $150 million for migrants, enough to cover only a few months of the estimated costs for next year.

As of Wednesday, more than 21,200 asylum seekers have arrived in Chicago since August 2022. City officials said 12,281 migrants were still staying in one of the 25 city-run shelters in Chicago, with 1,831 more staying at the city's police stations and another 572 staying at O'Hare International Airport while waiting for space in a shelter.

The governor said $160 million in surplus funding from the Illinois Department of Human Services will be spent to help Chicago provide shelter and services to migrants, broken down into three programs.

The state will spend $30 million to create a large intake and welcome center for newly arrived migrants, to help eliminate bottlenecks in providing services to asylum seekers and reduce delays in finding both temporary shelter and permanent housing.

Pritzker said the state will also help asylum seekers who don't want to stay in Chicago to get to another destination. State officials said they expect to reduce the number of people staying in shelters by 10% by more quickly sending them to other destinations if they don't want to stay in Chicago.

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