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Volunteer-run migrant shelter in Pilsen forced to close

Volunteer-run migrant shelter closing in Pilsen
Volunteer-run migrant shelter closing in Pilsen 01:56

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A volunteer-run shelter for migrants in the Pilsen neighborhood has been forced to shut down, leaving dozens of migrants to work to find new homes.

The unique shelter for newly arrived migrants has been operating for four nearly four months, funded entirely by donations and staffed by volunteers – with no government subsidies or staffing.

Now it must shut its doors for good.

"Part of that is around our volunteer capacity, part of that is around our ability to fundraise," said volunteer Anna DiStefano.

The center, which has had 260 asylum seekers come through since it opened, was created by a volunteer network called Todo Para Todos, which means "everything for everyone."

Insurance issues with the property, lack of funding and staff – many of whom are educators and had to go back to the classrooms with the new school year – all contributed to its closing.

 "I think we always knew that there would be a temporary aspect to this, but we definitely thought, we definitely had hoped we would be able to host people longer," DiStefano said.

The goal is to get the 85 residents still at the shelter as of Wednesday moved out by Sept. 3, ideally to permanent housing, but it's been a challenge.

"There's a lot of uncertainty. I mean, every time we've been asking for support and resources, we're kind of told that there is no more capacity. So I'm not really sure what that's going to look like at the level of the city or the state," DiStefano said.

City officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meantime, staff members like Cirila Espinoza said they fear some of the residents at the Pilsen shelter, along with their small children, will have to go back to sleeping at the local police station while they figure out where to go.

But volunteers are staying hopeful, and so are the residents.

"The people are really still committed to helping," DiStefano said.

Emma, a migrant at the Todo Para Todos shelter, said she still doesn't know where she will move to, but she's thankful she's been able to call this place home even if for a bit; especially after her months-long journey to get here from Ecuador. 

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