Migrant families say they were forced to leave South Side shelter

A group of migrant fathers, anticipating a joyous reunion with their families after several days away working on a construction job, arrived at a South Side shelter on Thursday evening only to be turned away by staff because the men had found jobs.

The men were away working in Wisconsin and had just arrived at the Lake Shore Hotel, 4900b S. Lake Shore Drive in Kenwood about 8 p.m. Staff learned that the men had been working and wouldn’t allow them to enter.

That prompted the men’s wives and eight children, who were inside, to also leave the shelter.

"We arrived today, and they kicked us out because we were working," said one father who declined to give his name. He said they were "out on the street with all our suitcases and bags and everything."

"They didn’t let our husbands in," one woman said. "We weren’t going to stay without them."

The city did not immediately respond to requests for comment on why the group was kicked out, nor did Favorite Healthcare Staffing, the agency that the city has contracted with to run its shelters.

After an hour on the street outside the hotel, the men, women and children, 16 in all, headed for O’Hare International Airport, the temporary shelter where they had been staying before moving to the hotel.

Another migrant at the shelter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals by staff, was surprised that the group wasn’t allowed to at least spend the night.

"With it being cold, with them having kids," said the migrant from Venezuela, "you’d think they’d have more compassion."

Michael Loria is a staff reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South Side and West Side.