Mayor Brandon Johnson Announces the Return of Five Chicago Park District Facilities to Programming and Operations
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CHICAGO ~ Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson announced today that the City of Chicago will be decompressing temporary shelters at five Chicago Park District facilities, beginning on March 30, 2024. These facilities are currently being used as part of the New Arrivals Mission, which provides emergency shelter for new arrivals to the city.

The decision to decompress these shelters comes after all shelter residents have been successfully transitioned to other nearby shelters. This move aims to minimize disruptions for shelter residents, particularly in regards to schooling and work. The Park District will then begin the process of restoring the facilities and resuming park programming and other operations at each of the five locations.

The five park facilities that will be decompressed are Gage Park, Broadway Armory Park, Brands Park, Leone Park, and Piotrowski Park. These sites were initially converted into temporary emergency shelters in May 2023 and were joined by a sixth site later that summer. However, with the collaboration of the City with the State and County on a regional approach to the New Arrivals mission, it has been determined that these remaining five park facilities are no longer necessary.

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Mayor Johnson expressed his gratitude towards all those who have played a role in providing shelter for new arrivals in Chicago. He also acknowledged the support from alderpersons and communities who have welcomed new neighbors with open arms. He stated that he is proud of his administration's efforts and is pleased that these park facilities will be returned to their intended purpose just in time for summer programming.

The first facility to come online as a temporary emergency shelter was North Park Village in May 2023. However, it was decompressed earlier this year in February and utilized as an early voting site. The City has been regularly assessing each site every six months to determine if they are still needed as part of the broader mission.

The success of utilizing Park District facilities as temporary shelters would not have been possible without the support of alderpersons from each location. Their engagement was crucial in setting up and ensuring the safety and success of each site, and now in transitioning them back to their intended use.

Alderman Mike Rodriguez of the 22nd Ward, which includes Little Village, expressed his community's support for the New Arrivals Mission. He stated that they have opened their doors and hearts to new neighbors and are excited to return to Piotrowski Park and access all the programming it offers. Similarly, Alderwoman Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth of the 48th Ward, which includes Broadway Armory Park, expressed her pride in her ward for stepping up when support was needed.

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Alderman Raymond Lopez of the 15th Ward, which includes Gage Park, also praised Mayor Johnson and his team for listening to community members and resuming programming at their Fieldhouse. He stated that Gage Park is a proud immigrant community with hardworking families who have immigrated to this country for a better life.

The transition of shelter residents from Park District facilities to new shelter locations will be a coordinated effort between the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS), the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), and Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The priority will be given to relocating shelter residents to shelters closest to them, with minimal disruption expected for children's schooling.

City departments will work together to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption for both shelter residents and the community. The Chicago Park District will then work towards making its facilities ready for community use soon after. More details on the transition will be provided as they become available.

Filed Under: Government, City

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