The Selina Hotel in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood will be turned into a homeless shelter run by the city starting in December.
Mayor Brandon Johnson’s spokesman Ronnie Reese said in a statement to WBEZ that the property will be used “as shelter for Chicago’s unhoused through a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services” for up to seven months. Reese said the facility would be staffed by housing group Equitable Social Solutions.
The shelter will use up all of the hotel’s 116 rooms; the conversion is not to accommodate the migrant population, which is creating a separate housing crisis for the city.
A spokeswoman for Selina Hotel said it will temporarily suspend operations on Nov. 10, resulting in employee layoffs. Maca Capocci said some unionized staff will remain on-site to maintain the property.
Meanwhile, 16 housekeeping and front desk workers with Unite Here Local 1 were told last week that they are being laid off this Friday as a result of the upcoming conversion.
Some workers protested outside the hotel Wednesday, saying they wanted to keep their jobs regardless of who runs the facility.
Housekeeping supervisor Angeyleah Campbell has been employed at the hotel for 25 years and saw ownership change several times.
“I felt devastated,” Campbell said of the layoffs. “We don’t care who comes in. We’re still willing to stay and do the work.”
Shawn Xiao has been working as a front desk supervisor for five years. He said he felt “like we’ve been seriously betrayed … we’ve been thrown out like a piece of garbage.”
Hotel workers said the city has not reached out about potential jobs at the upcoming shelter. They also said Selina management told them after the city is done operating its shelter, the Selina Hotel would likely cease operations.
Selina Hotel is part of a London-based youth hostel startup that is currently involved in a $25 million foreclosure dispute with real estate investment firm Hotel Capital, according to real estate news site The Real Deal.
Esther Yoon-Ji Kang is a reporter on WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Follow her on X @estheryjkang.