Skip to contents
Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Migrant Shelter At Uptown’s American Islamic College Grows To 1,000 Beds

The college campus, which is slated for redevelopment, will remain a migrant shelter housing families through the end of the year.

The American Islamic College, 640 W. Irving Park Rd., will see its migrant shelter grow to 1,000 beds.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
  • Credibility:

UPTOWN — The migrant shelter at Uptown’s American Islamic College campus has roughly doubled in size as the city continues to struggle finding enough housing for asylum seekers.

The shelter at the American Islamic College, 640 W. Irving Park Road, has expanded its capacity to 1,000 beds, according to Ald. Angela Clay’s 46th Ward office. That’s almost double the 560 people who moved into the historical college campus when it opened as a migrant shelter in early August.

The capacity was expanded starting last week, and 996 men, women and children were reported living at the Islamic College as of Friday, according to the new arrival dashboard published by Ald. Andre Vasquez’s 40th Ward office.

Clay’s office was notified on Wednesday the shelter in Uptown would be adding more beds, she said in an update to neighbors. The shelter will be in operation at least through the end of the year, according to Clay’s webpage.

“This increase comes with very little notice and sooner than we would hope as we bear the brunt of a broken federal immigration system,” Clay said in a letter to constituents. “Our office continues to advocate on behalf of 46th Ward residents to ensure this transition happens smoothly and any challenges brought to our attention continue to be addressed promptly.”

The American Islamic College — a historically protected campus set for redevelopment — is now the third largest emergency migrant shelter opened by the city after a motel in River North and one in the South Loop.

The migrant shelter at the American Islamic College campus houses families.

The American Islamic College has been in the process of winding down its operations at the Uptown campus, which is slated to be redeveloped into apartments and a senior living center.

Developer K Giles LLC bought the college campus in July, after the project received city approval, property records show. The developer intends to begin work after the facility ceases to be used as a shelter, according to Clay’s office.

Credit: Jim Vondruska for Block Club Chicago
Migrants take shelter and live inside of the Near West 12th police precinct in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., August 29, 2023.

Its expansion comes as the city continues to receive buses of asylum seekers arriving into the city from border states like Texas.

Since August 2022, over 14,000 migrants have arrived in the city. The influx has strained an already overburdened city shelter system, compelling local officials to quickly repurpose existing buildings and buy other spaces to convert them into temporary shelters.

Twenty temporary shelters have been opened in the city, which house over 7,600 migrants as of this week, according to the city. Another 1,600 are living in police stations and over 500 at O’Hare International Airport.

In an effort to remove migrants from police station lobbies, Mayor Brandon Johnson has pitched climate-controlled tent camps to house large numbers of asylum seekers.

City and state officials have pleaded with federal authorities for more help, be it through funding and other resources, or speeding up the work authorization approval process so people can more quickly find work and make a living. The City Council last week voted to accept $33 million from the federal government for food and shelter space for migrants.

For more information on the Islamic College shelter and ways to help its residents, click here.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Watch our “On The Block” TV show on The U, CW26 and MeTV.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: