Nov. 10, 2023 – Over a four-day period this week between Nov. 7-10, the Village of Oak Park collaborated with multiple community partners to successfully relocate 162 asylum-seeking migrants residing within the community into new temporary shelters.
On Tues., Nov. 7, 58 migrants were moved from United Lutheran Church and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church to The Carleton Hotel of Oak Park. On Wednesday, an additional six families of 26 individuals, were moved into The Carleton.
On Thurs., Nov. 9, the West Cook YMCA began receiving new arrivals with 40 individuals moving into that space. Fourteen more are being moved into the YMCA on Friday. Finally, approximately 23 migrants are being sheltered at Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park as of Friday afternoon. The temporary shelter at Grace Episcopal Church will be overseen and operated by a team of dedicated volunteers.
Of the 162 total asylum seekers that have been under the Village’s care and relocated to new temporary housing this week, 58 are children under the age of 18. A family of four asylum seekers was also taken into private housing directly by an Oak Park family this week.
The Village, meanwhile, will continue to support the ongoing efforts to support asylum seekers currently housed at The Carleton Hotel and the West Cook YMCA. Wraparound services, managed by Housing Forward, include daily staffing for up to 12 hours per day for assessment, intake and service coordination, as well as volunteer management, behavioral health support, transportation, laundry services and program administration. Meals are also provided at each site.
With the moves complete, the Village’s efforts that had been focused at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, where approximately 116 asylum-seeking migrants had been residing since the early-morning hours on Nov. 1, have ceased. For nine days, Village staff and community volunteers provided around-the-clock public health and safety services, language translation, meals and more at that location.
“We are once again incredibly grateful for the generosity of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and willingness and desire to make a positive impact displayed by Rev. Kathy Nolte and the congregation,” said Village Manager Kevin J. Jackson. “This site and this group not only answered the call, but they went above and beyond to ensure that these asylum seekers were welcomed into Oak Park and well cared for.
“The Village is also appreciative of the collaborative spirit shown over the past week from Mike Fox and the staff of The Carleton Hotel, Phillip Jiménez, the leadership and the staff of the West Cook YMCA, Lynda Schueler, Armando Smith and their entire team at Housing Forward, as well as the countless number of community members who have been involved in this effort from the very beginning,” said Jackson. “Without the willingness of so many people to roll up their sleeves and do the work necessary to make this happen, I’m not sure how it would have come together. Oak Park has shown its unwavering readiness to meet this situation head-on.”
This week the Village of Oak Park also teamed up with the Cook County Health Department to provided needed medical care for the migrants residing in the community. A Care Coordination Team was on site at The Carleton on Thursday to triage the group there and directly transport patients in need of immediate care or attention to and from the CCH facility in Chicago’s Belmont-Cragin neighborhood. A similar operation is expected to take place next week at the YMCA.
Donations of goods and supplies are not currently being accepted at any of the sites in Oak Park. The Village’s Emergency Operations Center is working with its partners to finalize a plan to receive and distribute donations intended for the asylum seekers. More information will be shared as it becomes available. Both Housing Forward and the West Cook YMCA are directly accepting monetary donations to support asylum seekers on their web sites.
The Village of Oak Park is asking those interested in volunteering to sign up for Oak Park's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Click here to learn more or sign up for CERT. Volunteers with an interest in medical emergency response can apply to serve with the Oak Park's Medical Reserve Corps – click here to sign up for MRC. For more information about volunteering, call 708.358.5700 Monday-Friday between 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
More information about the efforts to assist asylum-seeking migrants in Oak Park is available at www.oak-park.us/emergencyresponse23.
About Oak Park
The Village of Oak Park, located just nine miles west of downtown Chicago, offers a distinctive urban/suburban lifestyle in a thriving, multi-cultural community. Well-known for progressive values, tree-lined streets and bustling business districts, Oak Park serves as an ideal place to live, work and play. As a longstanding community of choice, the Village benefits from convenient access to local and regional transit, high-quality public schools, and arts and cultural attractions, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio and his acclaimed United Temple, which was recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.