Cooperation, communication key in ensuring success for migrant housing in Woodlawn

We are a sanctuary city in Chicago, welcoming to all. Uplifting those who have arrived at our doorsteps from all corners of the world is in our DNA.

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Asylum seekers earlier this month carry personal belongings into the former James Wadsworth Elementary School which was converted into a temporary shelter in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

Asylum seekers carry their belongings Thursday into the former James Wadsworth Elementary School in Woodlawn, which has been converted into a temporary shelter.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

There was pushback when asylum seekers started trickling into the Woodlawn neighborhood last Thursday.

The protest, however, was only two men strong — and we think that’s a positive sign that most in the community will welcome the migrants.

After the pair initially stood in front of the CTA bus transporting the small group of migrants, they didn’t block the vehicle when it reversed and made its way toward an entryway of the former James Wadsworth Elementary School, where the migrants will be temporarily housed.

Sure, the two men said they’re still dismayed over the city’s handling of its plans to use the vacant school as a shelter. And yes, the city erred with an initial lack of communication about the matter, and then by scheduling a community forum on the plan during the holidays.

But the city sought to make matters right by holding another meeting. And a city official admitted the “huge mistake” of not conferring fully with residents and Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) beforehand.

Now it’s time to move forward, given the pressing need for shelter for the influx of migrants arriving in our city.

Communication and cooperation will be key. Mayor Lori Lightfoot must keep her promise to regularly send updates to Taylor, who in return should make it clear the community welcomes the asylum seekers.

Editorial

Editorial

We are a sanctuary city in Chicago, welcoming to all. Uplifting those who have arrived at our doorstep from all corners of the world is in our DNA. The temporary shelter in Woodlawn is an example of that hospitality.

Thousands of asylum seekers have been sent to Chicago from various states, including Colorado and Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t faltered with his inhumane political stunt of sending busloads of migrants to Democrat-led cities.

The city has had to scramble to provide shelter for the migrants since August. The $20 million Chicago is set to receive for housing and services will help, but challenges remain.

By working together, Chicago won’t lose sight of what it stands for as a diverse city. The frustrations of South Side residents living in long-neglected neighborhoods are important but shouldn’t be pitted against the needs of desperate asylum seekers facing an uphill battle to start fresh in a new country.

The city has other similar locations around Chicago, including a shelter in a former Chicago public school at 26th Street and Calumet Avenue.

We hope the Wadsworth plan joins the list, and that any naysayers come to embrace having their community become a steppingstone for their new neighbors.

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