Your NPR news source
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson

Mayor Brandon Johnson presides over a Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Johnson has pushed back for a third time a plan to evict migrants from city shelters who have stayed longer than 60 days.

Ashlee Rezin

Mayor Brandon Johnson again delays his 60-day limit for migrants in the city’s shelters

A policy meant to boot migrants from city-run shelters after 60 days will be postponed for a third time, with the first wave of evictions now being planned for mid-March, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced at a news conference Monday.

The delay comes three days before nearly 2,000 migrants would be required to leave city shelters. Volunteers and more than a dozen alderpersons had called on the city to rescind the limit on shelter stays that was first implemented in November.

People who were expected to leave between January and the end of February — roughly 5,700 people — will now receive a 60-day extension. For example, officials said, those set to leave on Jan. 16, the original eviction date, now have until March 16.

Another roughly 2,100 people set to leave shelters in March will have another 30 days. Meanwhile, anyone newly entering the shelter as of Monday will still be limited to 60 days.

Johnson prefaced the announcement by laying out stricter limits other cities have put in place, while emphasizing that the city’s shelter space is intended to be temporary.

“We want to give every person and every single family that has come to our city enough time to process their work authorization, find housing, start a new life in our great city,” Johnson said. “We will continue to assess this developing situation as we move through these winter months.”

The city has said case managers are working to find housing for those facing the looming eviction, even as a state administered rental assistance program has no longer been offered to those who newly entered shelter since mid-November.

A little over 720 people are “connected to rental assistance or are in some process of finding housing,” Department of Family and Support Services Commissioner Brandie Knazze said. The city will also be implementing additional check-ins two weeks into a migrant’s stay and two weeks before their exit to assess if they will need to request shelter again.

As of Monday, more than 14,100 people were staying across 28 city shelters, with a little over 180 staying at O’Hare Airport as they waited for a shelter bed, according to city figures.

The postponement comes after nearly a third of the City Council urged Johnson Thursday to rescind the 60-day policy altogether, arguing “the city should not be in the business of handing out eviction notices.” The city “has so far shown itself unable” to stem the flow of buses sending migrants to Chicago or quickly help migrants apply for work permits and find housing, they wrote last week in a letter to Johnson.

“To stand by the decision to impose 60-day limits on shelters without addressing these systemic issues leaves new arrivals without options for housing or shelter,” the letter read. “This situation simply should not be acceptable.”

A Johnson spokesman said last week 3,798 people utilized “resettlement services” and exited shelter since the 60-day deadlines were first announced last year. The city said it expects to see the pace of exits accelerate after service providers aiding in the resettlement process were expanded earlier this month to all shelters — rather than just 14.

Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to the city’s efforts to care for migrants, including funding a recently-opened shelter at a former CVS store in Little Village. Johnson said the state is still committed to funding an additional 2,000 beds, although Johnson and Pritzker have pointed fingers at each other over the proposal of sites.

The city has paused reopening shelters of its own, citing budget constraints. But Johnson declined to answer whether he will have to go back to the City Council to ask for more money after just $150 million was budgeted for migrant services this year.

“As far as what we do, because the costs are $1.5 million conservatively a day,” Johnson said. “We’re going to have to push the federal government to do its part because we have limitations. That’s all we have right now.”

Johnson has pushed back the eviction deadline twice since announcing the policy in November. It was first set to be enforced on Jan. 16, but was pushed back to Jan. 22 amid a cold snap that saw sub-zero temperatures.

WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel and Tessa Weinberg cover Chicago government and politics.

The Latest
The Democratic commissioner was known for his advocacy of improving mental health care.
Colin Hinkle, a professional drone pilot, noticed the red dye mixing with the green water of the fountain early Saturday morning and saw spray paint on the ground that read, “Gaza is bleeding” and “Stop the genocide.” 'That’s when I realized it was a protest,’ Hinkle said.
It’s part of a critical voter outreach plan in place since President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign as Biden combats Donald Trump and his army of online supporters.
Domestic violence with a gun is a leading cause of death for children, NPR’s Nina Totenberg reports. More than half of all mass shootings are perpetrated by people with a record of domestic violence.
Nearly a decade has passed since an Illinois politician as significant as Burke faced sentencing at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. The need to send a message to others is sure to be on the judge’s mind when she makes her decision.