Suit seeks to stop Chicago from using public buildings to house migrants

South Shore residents have re-filed a lawsuit that aims to stop the city from housing asylum-seekers in public buildings such as police stations and schools.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 26 by Natasha Dunn, Jimmy Darnell Jones and other residents, seeks wider relief in addition to their initial case filed in May, which sought to stop the former South Shore High School from being turned into a shelter for migrants. It names the city of Chicago, Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago Public Schools as defendants.

The residents voluntarily dropped the first lawsuit after learning the former high school wouldn’t be used to house asylum-seekers, who have been arriving by bus from Texas since last year.

But after hearing that thousands of migrants would continue to be sent to Chicago, the South Shore residents filed a broader lawsuit in Cook County circuit court, said Frank Avila, an attorney representing the residents.

Chicago has scrambled to find housing for more than 17,000 migrants who have arrived in the city since August 2022. Mayor Brandon Johnson plans to establish giant tent cities, or “winterized base camps,” to house new arrivals.

The lawsuit argues that the use of public buildings as migrant housing is a nuisance to the community, and also accuses the city of violating zoning ordinances around the former high school and other public areas. 

The suit calls for an audit of city funding used for migrants and related housing.

“The city does not comment on pending litigation,” law department spokesperson Kristen Cabanban said.

The new lawsuit adds claims that the move to turn police stations into makeshift shelters, where migrants have been sleeping on floors for months, violates federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

“They should not be in parks and floors and schools. They should be in residential housing, whether

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