CHICAGO (CBS) — “We completely, basically can’t have folks sleeping in our airports who’re homeless,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot mentioned this week.
The mayor made the feedback as she takes steps to take away homeless folks from O’Hare Worldwide Airport. As CBS 2’s Marissa Perlman reported Friday night time, homeless advocates are questioning the place all these folks will find yourself.
However in Terminal 1, they’re gone. Close to baggage declare within the terminal at 10 p.m. on any given night time, you’ll usually see dozens of homeless group members taking shelter from the chilly. Simply two weeks in the past, homeless folks have been seen sleeping on heating grates and crowding the terminal.
However the in a single day hours this previous Monday, there was not one homeless individual in sight.
The images of homeless folks sleeping and on heater vents, utilizing the terminal to dry their garments, and trashing airport loos have been despatched to CBS 2 by custodial staff who shared they’ve been harassed and adopted by among the homeless staying at O’Hare throughout their late-night shifts.
“None of really feel secure,” custodial employee Vonkisha Chatman informed CBS 2’s Perlman on Friday, Feb. 3.
Chatman mentioned she noticed law enforcement officials come on this week to filter out the homeless group.
In a information convention Thursday, Mayor Lightfoot mentioned, “We’ve got taken and can proceed to take the steps which are obligatory to maneuver folks out of the airports.”
We requested the Chicago Division of Aviation whether or not these strikes already occurred this week.
In response, the division mentioned:
“Mayor Lightfoot made clear Thursday that each one Metropolis of Chicago companies should proceed to work collectively and supply providers to unsheltered people at Chicago’s airports. Whereas it isn’t unlawful to be homeless on this metropolis, it’s trespassing to be at O’Hare or Halfway with none airport enterprise. The CDA stays dedicated to offering monetary and logistical assist to its companions on the Division of Household Help Providers (DFSS), the Chicago Police Division (CPD) and the Chicago Hearth Division (CFD) to make sure O’Hare and Halfway stay secure and safe for our passengers, whereas additionally doing what we will to assist people experiencing homelessness who make their strategy to Chicago’s airports.”
The Aviation Division referred us to the Chicago Police Division for techniques on how they have been moved. However police Information Affairs didn’t reply to our questions.
The homeless group searching for shelter at O’Hare will not be one thing new. It has been occurring for many years.
Walter Jacobson didn’t go to O’Hare as he got down to expertise homelessness firsthand in his well-known “Imply Road Diary” collection on CBS 2. However he did listing O’Hare alongside Union Station, Decrease Wacker Drive, and West Madison Road as locations that have been identified to be the place homeless folks got here to relaxation and be left alone. That was in February 1991.
We discovered some Related Press images of homeless folks at O’Hare relationship again from even earlier than that. They accompanied an AP story in 1989 a few plan within the works for town to conduct nightly sweeps at O’Hare and take the homeless to a homeless shelter.
However advocates informed us that has not occurred – and now there is no such thing as a shelter area.
And simply two weeks earlier than the mayoral election, Mayor Lightfoot introduced a change. This was her full quote from her Thursday information convention:
“The airports are a really totally different place than on the road; underneath an underpass. It is a safe location, and the message is obvious from me to the Division of Aviation; the Police Division up there – we completely, basically can’t have folks sleeping in our airports who’re homeless.”
Advocates like Doug Fraser with the Chicago Assist Initiative fear the mayor’s transfer occurred with out a plan.
“So what is the assist?” Fraser mentioned. “I do not disagree the airport will not be the correct place – however the place are they ending up?”
Fraser says the issue will now simply transfer off of airport property, and elsewhere within the metropolis.
“I’d like to know the place that assistance is,” he mentioned, “as a result of so far as I do know, each single shelter mattress is full.”
It isn’t clear if the efforts to take away the homeless group from O’Hare will proceed, and for a way lengthy.
We reached out to Haymarket Providers, which works instantly with the homeless at O’Hare, and have been informed they aren’t going to remark at this stage. The group mentioned they need to deal with their mission and work.