Sunday, February 11, 2024

Roaches, Rats and Rotten Food Reported at Chicago Shelter for Asylum Seekers; Report: Chicago City-Sponsored Migrant Shelters Filled with Rats, Rotting Food, Garbage

Photograph: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Roaches, rats and rotten food reported at Chicago shelter for asylum seekers:
Appalling conditions have been uncovered at a Chicago warehouse turned migrant shelter where more than 2,500 asylum seekers are staying.
Complaints about cockroaches, rats, rotten food, exposed pipes, sewage issues, spreading illnesses, and inadequate food and water provisions have been made to the city authorities, in emails first reported by WTTW, the PBS member station in Chicago.
Serious public safety concerns about the shelter, on the city’s South Side, were prompted in December when five-year-old Jean Carlos Martinez, who was staying there with his family, died there, while others were hospitalized. Though the cause of death has not been specified and is under investigation, Borderless magazine, which first reported the boy’s death, spoke to a migrant at the shelter who said the boy had a high fever and was convulsing before going to the emergency room.
The report by Borderless concluded that conditions relayed by residents at the shelter do not reach UN minimum standards for emergency refugee shelter.
The city is now under fire since email complaints about the shelter were sent to Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office two months earlier, in October 2023.
Kely Ramos is currently staying at the facility, which is called the Pilsen shelter, while her application for asylum in the US is assessed by federal authorities. She arrived nearly a month ago after a three-month journey by foot from Venezuela with her husband and six-year-old son. She expressed mixed feelings about the situation, saying on the one hand she was grateful to be at the shelter because she’s no longer sleeping on the street, but on the other she is also alarmed because a lot of people there are constantly getting sick, she said.
“People get sick a lot here,” she said last week by phone. Media are not given access to the shelter. Many of the migrants there have high fevers, she said. “Even my son has lost a lot of weight. He doesn’t want to eat the food, and that really hits me hard.” Ramos has had to go outside the shelter to find milk and cereal for her son, some of which is given to her by volunteers.
When people fall sick at the shelter, Ramos explained, generally they are moved to a place more isolated from others – but that sometimes then staffers forget to bring them food. When they do bring food, she doesn’t think it is healthy to eat, such as sticky pasta with an unpleasant-tasting sauce, she said.
“But again, who are we to be demanding?” she said.
Annie Gomberg, an organizer with the Police Station Response Team of volunteers, said that a contractor used by the city, Favorite Healthcare Staffing, was hired to provide food, medical assistance, bedding, laundry services and more at the hastily established, city-run shelters for migrants.
“City shelters have been a problem since their inception,” she said. The company “is making millions and millions of dollars to run the shelters”, she added. --->READ MORE HERE
Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Report: Chicago City-Sponsored Migrant Shelters Filled with Rats, Rotting Food, Garbage:
A report finds that some 2,500 migrants are living in squalid conditions in Chicago in a city-sponsored facility that was converted from a warehouse to a migrant shelter.
A report claims that the shelter is infested with rats and cockroaches, is covered in rotting food and garbage, has water quality issues, and has open sewage problems, among other issues, Chicago’s WTTW reported.
The complaints about the conditions at the shelter in the 2200 block of South Halsted Avenue were revealed in emails sent to Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson in October well ahead of the incident in December when a migrant child died at Comer Children’s Hospital after he took ill in the shelter.
Several other migrants at the same shelter had also fallen ill in the days after the child died. City officials have still not released any cause of death for the child.
WTTW reported that an email dated from October was sent to city hall alerting Mayor Johnson’s administration about the wretched conditions at the shelter. It was reportedly sent by 11th Ward Alderwoman Nicole Lee.
The station initially filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the emails but received documents that were nearly entirely redacted. However, government watchdog group FOIA Bakery obtained the unredacted messages and shared them with the station.
“The redacted parts allege the shelter had insufficient bathrooms, exposed pipes with raw sewage, cockroach infestation, a possible outbreak of illness with many people being sick, insufficient provision of meals and water,” WTTW reported.
Further emails showed city officials had replied to the emails and had been working to confirm the conditions. --->READ MORE HERE
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