Nov. 2, 2023 –During an emergency meeting of the Village Board on Thurs., Nov. 2, Village of Oak Park Trustees considered an emergency declaration as a procedural step in order to provide additional aid and support to asylum seekers residing in Oak Park.
The resolution, approved unanimously, calls for the temporary suspension of purchasing requirements such as formal bidding procedures and Board contract approvals when quick action is deemed necessary and when it is impractical to convene a Board meeting. This declaration is set to expire on Dec. 4.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker executed a “Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation” for the state on Oct. 13, also on a 30-day basis.
Previously during its meeting on Mon., Oct. 30, the Village Board authorized $150,000 in funds for asylum seekers. Last month, the Village received an additional $150,000 in the form of a Supporting Municipalities for Asylum Seeker Services (SMASS) grant from the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.
Since Wed., Nov. 1, the Village of Oak Park has been accommodating more than 100 asylum seekers seeking indoor shelter from frigid temperatures as they were primarily living outside of the Chicago Police Department’s 15th District in the nearby Austin neighborhood.
Thanks in large part to the generosity of Rev. Kathy Nolte, and the compassionate congregation, the majority of these migrants have been receiving temporary shelter at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Oak Park. Village staff has been working closely with church officials and volunteers to provide meals, medical care and other assistance while a more permanent solution is coordinated.
The Village of Oak Park and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church have been overwhelmed by the community’s generosity at the temporary site. Volunteer residents, Oak Park Township staff and others have offered translation, medical and wellness services. Additionally, donations of meals and other supplies have been abundant on site since the early-morning hours Wednesday.
However, officials are asking community members to pause those generous forms of support directly to the site at this time. Short-term plans are now in place to cover the needs of these asylum seekers until other accommodations can be secured.
Following the activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Wednesday, the Village’s emergency response plan to this situation remains in development. Once solidified, officials expect to put out a call to the community for ongoing support to address the needs of the migrant population. More information about those needs will be shared at www.oak-park.us/emergencyresponse23 as it becomes available.
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-line 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.