Lightfoot responds to reports of O’Hare airport homelessness

FILE – Travelers walk through Terminal 3 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Ill., Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

(NewsNation) — After the matter drew attention from national and social media, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed reports of people experiencing homelessness taking shelter in the city’s O’Hare International Airport.

Faced with nowhere else to go and cold winter temperatures, some unhoused individuals have had no choice but to go to the airport, according to local media reports. Local media outlet Block Club Chicago spoke to some people at O’Hare who said it’s safer and warmer than being outside.

Chicago’s Haymarket Center, a nonprofit that provides services to people recovering from substance use disorders, told Block Club Chicago that the number of people having to go to O’Hare has increased over the years.

“Our January at O’Hare was one of the busiest Januarys we ever had,” Jessica Dubuar told the online news site. “We are seeing more individuals and more encounters (who are) new to our system.”

Some called out the mayor for “ignoring” this issue, including Chicago Alderman Ray Lopez, who appeared on national television, according to NewsNation local affiliate WGN.

In response, the Chicago Sun-Times reported the mayor acknowledged what is happening in remarks to reporters Thursday.

“We have taken and will continue to take the steps that are necessary to move people out of the airports,” she said, according to the Sun-Times. “The airports are a very different place than on the street under an underpass.”

Lightfoot still said, though, that national outlets, which had portrayed large-scale encampments at O’Hare. had gotten the story wrong, the Sun-Times wrote.

“They’re never gonna portray our city in a favorable light,” she said.


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