(VitalNews.org) – More than 65,000 people in Chicago experienced homelessness in 2020, according to a 2022 report issued by the Chicago Coalition for Homelessness. Under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s leadership, the city’s crime rates have risen while the police presence has decreased, but perhaps the most notable statistic for people arriving in the Windy City via its famous O’Hare airport is the number of homeless people. Fox News host Tucker Carlson highlighted the virtual invasion of O’Hare on the February 16 edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” saying, “The so-called homeless have moved into Chicago international airport, O’Hare.”
Haymarket Center, a nonprofit organization, has taken the lead in serving the O’Hare homeless community. The charity has charted an increase in the population’s numbers year to year. In 2021, the organization served 431 homeless people. In 2022, the number increased by more than 43% to 618 homeless individuals.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot savaged for reportedly allowing 'homeless encampment' to fester in airport https://t.co/KOq3vRwXAB
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 16, 2023
Jessica Dubuar, Haymarket’s director of health and specialty services, explained the homeless use O’Hare as a last resort when shelters are full. “A lot of folks don’t end up at the airport because that’s their goal,” Dubuar told CBS News. “That is the last option they have.”
Still, Alderman Raymond Lopez, a Democrat, finds the situation intolerable and holds Mayor Lightfoot responsible. He told Tucker Carlson the city is working hard to promote growth. “[W]e’re trying to welcome people here, […] trying to encourage tourism, trying to bring back the business clientele.” Yet, he said many receive a first impression of the city at an airport filled with hundreds of vagrants, some of whom are dealing with psychiatric or substance abuse issues. He contended the situation doesn’t inspire confidence in the city or its mayor.
Lightfoot responded in a news conference on Thursday, February 16. She said the city has and will continue to take steps to move people out of the airports. The mayor indicated she had given clear instructions to the Chicago Police Department and the Department of Aviation in that regard. The Chicago Tribune reported that she added, “We absolutely fundamentally cannot have people sleeping in our airports who are homeless. That is unacceptable.”
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