KENWOOD — A lakefront hotel in Kenwood is set to house asylum seekers bused to Chicago, but the local alderman said he’s been given little information and the city moved forward without including neighbors on the plan.
The Chicago Lake Shore Hotel, 4900 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, will open as a migrant shelter as soon as next week after the city reached an agreement with the hotel’s owners, Ald. Desmon Yancy (5th) confirmed Monday.
The hotel could hold more than 300 migrants, but Yancy has “very, very limited info” on other aspects of the city’s plans, he said.
News of the shelter was first reported by the Hyde Park Herald.
A public meeting on the plans will be held 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West. The meeting will also be streamed on Facebook Live through Yancy’s aldermanic account.
Yancy learned about the Lake Shore Hotel plans “late last week,” he said. His “biggest concern” about the shelter’s opening is Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration didn’t consult neighbors ahead of time, the alderperson said.
“I just wish we would have had an opportunity to talk this through with the community,” Yancy said.
Spokespeople for Johnson and the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than 13,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other out-of-state politicians began sending them to Chicago in August 2022.
Many have come to the United States from Venezuela, which has struggled with political and economic upheaval resulting in severe food and medicine shortages, surging inflation, rising unemployment and violent crime.
A 3-year-old died this month on a bus from Texas, while some migrants have been isolated from basic resources like housing, food and jobs during their rapid relocation to Chicago.
The influx of vulnerable residents needing social services has strained an already overloaded city shelter system, as local officials scramble to find more places to temporarily house people and families. But that process also has been plagued by a lack of transparency with neighbors and local alderpeople.
In Douglas, neighbors rebuked city leaders in July for opening a vacant health center to house migrants and hosting a community meeting to inform neighbors less than 24 hours before they’d planned to move people in.
Fellow South Side Alds. Jeanette Taylor (20th) and Michelle Harris (8th) blasted Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration for opening or trying to open shelters in Woodlawn and South Shore without public input.
The South Shore shelter remained on the city’s list of potential shelter sites as of last month, amid a lawsuit filed by several neighbors to block the plan in May.
Johnson, who took office less than two weeks after plans to open a shelter at the 8th Ward’s old South Shore High School were announced, pledged at the time to hear from South Shore residents before making a decision on the shelter.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: