300 migrants to be housed at shuttered Catholic church on Northwest Side in Chicago

  St. Bartholomew School, 4941 W. Patterson Ave. in Portage Park.  Violet Miller/Sun-Times St. Bartholomew School, 4941 W. Patterson Ave. in Portage Park. Violet Miller/Sun-Times

By  Cindy Hernandez - Chicago Sun Times - A shuttered church in Portage Park will serve as a new migrant family shelter, the city announced Friday. The Archdiocese of Chicago will lease St. Bartholomew Catholic Church at no cost — months after church officials offered to house new arrivals rent-free at the church. In turn, the city will sub-lease the building to the Zakat Foundation, which provides emergency relief and aid, to care for 300 new arrivals starting later this month, Johnson's office said. An agreement was made and the shelter was to open in January, but the deal never went through.

Despite offers to house migrants rent-free in over a dozen church-owned locations, Mayor Brandon Johnson's administration instead leased several privately-owned shelter spaces. Others were housed in buildings own by the city or the Chicago Park District.

Hundreds of migrants will be moving out of five Chicago Park District shelters in the coming weeks to allow the Park District's spring programming to resume.

“This initiative represents a remarkable example of what can be achieved when the public, private, and non-profit sectors collaborate towards a common goal,” the mayor said in a statement issued by his office.

Under the agreement, the Zakat Foundation will cover all operational costs, including logistics and staffing for the shelter while adhering to the city's Shelter Operation Guide.

"The family shelter at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church is a testament to the resilience and empathy of our community," said Ald. Ruth Cruz (30th). “I look forward to assisting the Zakat Foundation, Cook County, and the Archdiocese in providing these vulnerable families with a safe place and the necessary resources to create a new life for themselves.”

Cook County will oversee construction of shower facilities at the church and other minor renovations to accommodate families.

Last modified onMonday, 08 April 2024 19:44