This week saw two significant triumphs for the South Shore community as The Neighborhood Network Alliance (NNA), alongside other South Shore organizations and residents, succeeded in getting the City of Chicago to remove the old South Shore High School building from the list of possible locations for migrant housing. With Chicago's current migrant crisis that has seen the arrival nearly 9,000 individuals from distressed nations such as Colombia and Venezuela and resulted in a State of Emergency being issued, the need for immediate housing for the influx of migrants has put the city in a tough situation.
After a rigorous letter writing and community engagement campaign which culminated in a delegation of South Shore residents making their way to the first City Council meeting conducted by newly-minted mayor Brandon Johnson, several NNA staff and community members made both their concerns and their demands known. In addition to the South Shore location being taken "off the table" the vote to allocate 51 million dollars to migrant care and housing was delayed. A special meeting of the city council has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 31 and the vote is then expected to take place.
The residents as well as NNA Founder Val Free have been vocal in expressing their frustrations with the City's plans for the long empty high school. South Shore is a traumatized community due to the overwhelming amount of homelessness, crime, unemployment and resource inequity and is already under intense stress. Adding hundreds of migrants to an already struggling community would just exacerbate the problems that exist while adding new ones. With innumerable issues to address pertaining to the area's current residents, further stretching limited resources is both reckless and unfair.
The NNA plans to continue to stand on the front lines in the fight to win fair and equitable treatment for all residents of South Shore and Chicago's entire Black community.