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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Leone Beach Field House In Rogers Park Converted To Shelter For Migrants Bused From Texas

The oldest lakefront building in the city will temporarily serve as an emergency housing shelter to help the over 2,000 asylum seekers brought to Chicago from Texas.

The Leone Beach Park fieldhouse could be opened as a nature center if it wins funding from the Chicago Works project.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
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ROGERS PARK — The field house at Leone Beach Park has been converted into a temporary emergency shelter to help house the thousands of migrants being bused to Chicago from Texas.

The field house was converted to a housing shelter last week and is now sheltering asylum seekers sent to Chicago by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot, according to Ald. Maria Hadden (49th).

Leone Beach Park’s field house is not generally open to the public and is used mostly in the summer as storage and break rooms for lifeguards, Hadden said in an announcement to neighbors on social media.

“For the time being it’s going to be a temporary shelter for a few of the migrants newly arriving in the city,” Hadden said. “These are very temporary situations. The city and county and the state are doing what they can in order to make sure we can receive people.”

The Chicago Park District field house on the Rogers Park lakefront is the latest building to be converted to a shelter as city officials scramble to provide services for the migrants, who began arriving at the end of August.

Through Tuesday, 2,078 migrants have been brought to Chicago from Texas, officials said.

The High Ridge YMCA building in West Ridge was converted to a shelter last month, capable of housing 120 people. The YMCA outpost closed its doors in early 2021.

A city official said the city could not confirm the location of the temporary housing shelters for privacy reasons but did say officials are working to find shelters for families, single women and single men and to help with resettlement services.

A Park District spokesperson referred inquiries to the city agency’s handling services for newly arriving migrants.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Migrants disembark a bus at Union Station after a 25-hour-long ride from Texas on Sept. 9, 2022.

Leone Beach Park’s field house was built in 1900 as a pumping station and is the oldest building on the city’s lakefront.

The building is seldom used outside of the beach season. Last year, it was in the running for $1.5 million in city funds to be converted into a nature center. The project lost to a proposed renovation of Warren Park sports fields.

Park officials announced late last year that Leone Beach Park would get a nature play space.

Hadden’s 49th Ward office is collecting donations for the migrants being housed locally. Items accepted for donation include baby products, toiletries, toys and clothing for children and adults. They can be dropped at the ward office 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at 1447 W. Morse Ave.

Donations should not be brought to the shelter sites and volunteers are not needed on-site, Hadden said.

Converting non-shelter facilities into emergency housing for migrants is funded in part with federal dollars, Hadden said. The idea should be explored more closely as a possibly partial solution for Rogers Park’s and the city’s homeless crisis.

“We are working diligently to house our unsheltered neighbors,” Hadden said. “We’re learning from these situations as well to try and provide better solutions long-term for people.”

For more on the 49th Ward donation drive, click here. The city’s volunteer and donation information to help newly arriving migrants, click here.

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