Migrant families who slept in tents after being kicked out of shelter have a new home

Eight members of the Leon and Castro families had lived outdoors after being locked out of a shelter Saturday. The city has moved them to the Inn of Chicago in Streeterville.

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La familia León y la familia Castro, solicitantes de asilo de Venezuela, compartieron una carpa en Loyola Park después de que el fin de semana pasado no pudieran entrar a un motel de Rogers Park.

The Leon family and the Castro family, asylum-seekers from Venezuela, shared a tent at Loyola Park after they were locked out of a Rogers Park motel last weekend.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Migrant families who were sleeping in tents after being kicked out of a Rogers Park motel that houses asylum-seekers will be placed at another shelter in the city.

The two families of four agreed to be housed at the Inn of Chicago, a former boutique hotel in Streeterville that is now a shelter for migrant families seeking asylum, according to a statement from the city.

The Leon and Castro families had been sleeping in two donated tents at Loyola Park since being asked to leave the Super 8 Motel at Sheridan Road and Chase Avenue on Saturday after missing an 11 p.m. curfew by seven minutes the night before, according to Alejandra Leon.

Leon said they were unfairly removed while others at the shelter have committed violations without penalty.

migrant families tent Loyola Park Chicago Leon Castro

The Leon and Castro families, migrants from Venezuela, huddle in a tent at Loyola Park Monday.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

But the city said Tuesday that the two families were asked to leave the motel after “multiple” curfew violations and were offered alternate shelter at the Inn, but they refused to board transportation.

Leon said they weren’t given information on the new shelter, and fearing their new location would not just house families but also single men and women, the families decided to stay outside the motel for the safety of their children.

She also said the city hadn’t reached out to them about a new shelter since that day, but the city said the Department of Family and Support Services tried to locate them on Sunday but were unsuccessful.

“It’s always hard when there’s multiple sides to a story, but I feel like myself and this city have been going out of their way to be compassionate and open to folks,” 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s challenging because we have to have rules and standards.”

The city echoed Hadden in its statement, saying “with nearly 6,400 people in shelters, we cannot make exceptions for every situation that arises. There are rules in place for all 15 shelters for the safety of shelter residents, staff and the surrounding community.”

Inn of Chicago shelter migrant families

The Inn of Chicago is a former boutique hotel that is now housing migrant families.

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All new arrivals have a curfew of 11 p.m. unless an individual has prior approval due to work or other “urgent matters,” the city said. Individuals who miss curfew twice may be removed from their shelters, and DFSS will try to find them space at another location if it’s available.

The city has struggled to find housing for migrants, with many finding initial shelter on the floors of police stations, since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began sending busloads of migrants to Chicago last spring.

The city said Tuesday that the “humanitarian crisis” is not abating.

“In the last seven days, we have received 11 buses from Texas. The city is working to ensure that all new arrivals receive temporary shelter and support in order to reach the ultimate goal of resettlement.”

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