More than initially budgeted was spent on asylum seekers, causing the government to use the Chicago COVID-19 relief funds. According to Mayor Brandon Johnson, unfortunately, the city’s space is no longer fit to support the growing need for housing. More funds are required to assist the thousands of migrants seeking refuge there. More about this has been discussed below.
Chicago COVID-19 Relief Funds to Be Used for Settling the Issue
The city had to take $95 million in federal pandemic aid funds via the American Rescue Plan to resolve the persistent staffing problem at migrant shelters.
Johnson backed up this decision by stating that the local municipalities are not built to support this crisis. After careful consideration, the relief fund money has been allocated for migrant expenses instead of the government’s day-to-day operations.
A significant chunk of this money went to Favorite Healthcare Staffing, a Kansas-based firm mainly concerned with caring for migrants at city-run shelters. Additionally, the allocated budget for helping migrants in 2024 is only $150 million.
Chicago received $1.887 billion from ARPA’s Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to deal with the negative impacts of COVID-19. These funds had to be used for related expenditures from March 2021 to December 2024.
On the other hand, the city has spent $138 million since November 2022 to deal with the crisis caused by the influx of asylum seekers from the Texas/Mexico border. Data from a database created by Johnson’s office supports this.
The $95 million will be used for shelter leases, food, staffing, and other related expenditures. Furthermore, more than $400 million from the APRA funds has been put aside for the sake of community programs between fiscal years 2024 and 2026. But this will not be utilized in the New Arrivals Mission.
The Migrant Crisis Is Affecting Chicago
This is the first time in history that the mayor has agreed that the city is running out of space. Local economies are solely subsidizing this growing international crisis, which is not sustainable in the long run.
Pastor John Zayas, the senior pastor at Grace and Peace Church, mentioned that due to a lack of space, the migrant families are living in buses, which is inconvenient.
His church is among the ten churches that are actively working alongside Johnson’s administration to provide the affected people with proper shelter. He also raised his voice about how no firm response from the federal government is forcing people to go out on the streets. This issue can become a more significant threat if handled after some time.
Zayas’ church is currently looking after 245 asylum seekers, and they are earnestly working forward to meet their goal of helping 375 people.
The allocation of $95 million has been met with backlash from several members of the Chicago City Council. According to their argument, the funds were supposed to look after the people of Chicago rather than the asylum seekers. The funds are not directed towards aiding businesses, individuals who have lost their loved ones, or those directly impacted. This undermines the intended purpose of Chicago’s COVID-19 pandemic relief funds, which were supposed to help the struggling Chicago community.
The members of the City Council are expected to request a hearing to decide whether Johnson has the sole authority to allocate $95 million without approval.
This ends our coverage of Chicago COVID-19 relief funds being used to deal with the migrant issue. If more information surfaces, we will update this site immediately.
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