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Residents protest plan to house 300 migrants at Hyde Park area motel

Meeting on housing migrants in Hyde Park motel turns heated
Meeting on housing migrants in Hyde Park motel turns heated 02:36

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Fired-up residents raised their voices Wednesday night at a contentious meeting with city leaders in Hyde Park.

The city wants to house hundreds of asylum seekers at a motel in the area – but many residents who packed the meeting Wednesday night said, "No way."

The city said two more busloads of migrants arrived Wednesday. That is one reason the city needs shelters where 250 or more migrants can go at once.

How the community learned about the city's decision left a bad taste for many. 

In less than a week, the Chicago Lake Shore Hotel, at 4900B S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr., will soon house 300 migrants. Those living in Hyde Park, like Emmanuel Jackson, cannot understand why.

"I think it's a basic issue of notification and respect," Jackson said. "If these types of wide changes are being made in the community in which we live, we should know about them."

That was why hundreds packed a community meeting on Wednesday night at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West.

"I was absolutely livid, and you guys are so hypocritical," one woman said.

Ald. Desmon Yancy (5th) called the community together after he learned about the new shelter for migrants coming into his ward.

"I just got presented with this on Wednesday," Yancy said. "I just got wind of this."

Yet that is all the city has given those who call Hyde Park home.

The hotel sits on DuSable Lake Shore Drive and backs up to the Hyde Park and Kenwood communities, where there are homes and high-rises. That is the sticking point for residents.

"How do we know that these are not criminals coming into our community?" a woman said at the meeting.

The city says currently, 6,500 migrants are staying at the 16 city-run shelters. The goal is to get the migrants out of the police stations with overflowing lobbies.

But those in the crowd Wednesday evening questioned why their Hyde Park community was chosen.

"You've got 73 percent of the people homeless in this city are Black people," a woman said. "What have you done for them?"

"I understand exactly the sentiment. What I am saying to you is we're all in the same city, so we all know that the Black community hasn't had that level of investment; hasn't had that support," said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), chairman of the City Council Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "We have existing people that also need housing."

Families will occupy the two-level hotel, but the city could not give a timeline for how long they will stay.

Yet the city revealed Wednesday night that migrants have been living and staying in some rooms since the spring. Now, they will occupy the entire building – leaving many at the meeting – and those who live next door – questioning the city's move.

"Our building is getting a new grocery store. We got public notification three months ago," said Jackson. "So you're going to change an actual hotel to a shelter - and not tell anybody?"

There was no word late Wednesday on how long the migrants will stay at the new Hyde Park shelter. But they will be there for several months, with fall and winter around the corner.

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