Airport Employees Warn Lori Lightfoot over Growing Homeless Problem Inside O’Hare: ‘It’s Out of Control’

Employees at O’Hare International Airport have reached their limit with another abject failure by embattled Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Staff are speaking out over the rise of homeless people moving into one of the busiest airports in the world.

Thousands of Chicago homeless are now seeking refuge inside O’Hare, according to CBS news.

Employees sent the network photos of people sleeping on heater vents, using the terminal to dry their clothes, and trashing airport bathrooms. Pictures of the same have gone viral on social media.

Vonkisha Chatman and Catherine Thompson told the network they fear for their safety. “It’s out of control,” Chatman said. “None of us feel safe.” Chatman and Thompson work overnight hours as custodians at O’Hare.

“They will come up behind you. This one man followed us last night,” Thompson said.

“From the time we get here until the time we leave in the morning, they will be here.”

“They just tell us to be careful because it’s out of their hands, like they can’t do anything,” Chatman said of police who can’t intervene unless someone is physically touched.

The Chicago Department of Aviation said:

“The CDA is aware of the increasing population of unsheltered individuals at O’Hare International Airport.

“It’s a common occurrence at this airport and airports nationwide when temperatures drop in the winter months.

“The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) and their delegate agencies continue to provide 24/7 outreach to unsheltered residents at O’Hare.

“Outreach professionals engage with individuals experiencing homelessness at O’Hare and conduct needs assessments.

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“If the individual chooses to accept assistance, outreach professionals connect them with appropriate services and shelters, including necessary referrals and transportation.

“The CDA remains committed to working with its partners at the Chicago Fire Department (CFD), the Chicago Police Department (CPD), and other governmental and community-based organizations to support those in need and connect them with available resources in Chicago.”

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services said:

“Sometimes, individuals experiencing homelessness do not accept services and outreach teams have to engage them many times before trust is established and the clients are ready to accept assistance. Outreach is not enforcement, and DFSS will continue to respond to community needs through trauma informed, strengths-based approaches.

“Building a rapport and connecting individuals to the services they need is an important step in the journey toward housing.

“DFSS outreach teams and delegate agencies connect individuals to services like crisis counseling, case management services, information and referral, placement, and travel support to shelters or other alternative living locations and linkage to other community resources.

“To better serve our fellow residents experiencing homelessness, DFSS has also developed encampment outreach strategies that include multi-day events to provide case management, access to a mobile health unit, outreach providers, mental health providers, substance abuse treatment, workforce supports, and connection to public benefits to all interested parties.

“Our investments to support homeless residents continues to grow and innovate, with a focus on housing-first solutions. First, we are investing $2M to fund additional outreach teams on the red line, blue line, and O’Hare – including overnight coverage.

“The department has utilized CARES ACT funding to invest $35 million dollars into the Expedited Housing Initiative, which has been able to house over 1800 households that were experiencing homelessness, including individuals from unsheltered locations.

“The initiative focuses on community engagement, collaboration, and accountability to streamline the housing process and enact lasting change. A new $27 million investment through the Chicago Recovery Plan and additional local funds will support continuation of the EHI and house another 1,200 households in the upcoming year, while also supporting the stability of 1,000 households that have already found a home.”

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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