MTO believes that the recent media frenzy focusing on Chicago’s migrant crisis fails to examine the underlying social issues at play. Migrants fleeing their homeland in search of safety, security, jobs and housing are not the problem. The problem Chicago faces is a severe lack of affordable housing which began long before the recent influx of migrants.
Everyone deserves a home. In fact, housing is a basic human necessity. Homes provide individuals and families with the security of knowing that they have a place to shelter in which they can eat, sleep and enjoy life. Homes set a foundation for success and achievement. Yet there are thousands in Chicago living in tents or doubled-up with friends or relatives. Even more people struggle to maintain a roof over their head. Some forgo medicine, miss meals, work two or three jobs sacrificing their mental health and time with their loved ones, just to maintain an often lousy, pest-infested unit. Instead of facing the deeper problem, political leaders and the media declare a Migrant crisis, which blames those in need for the problem.
At MTO, we believe that regardless of circumstances, everyone deserves a home. Housing needs to be recognized as a human right.
If we view this complex, challenging, and yet solvable problem through a lens of housing injustice, we can develop solutions that lift up longtime Chicago residents as well as new arrivals. MTO believes there are immediate steps that can be taken to alleviate the housing crisis:
- Stop the exploitation and neglect of tenants by putting slumlords out of business through aggressive code enforcement and then force the transfer of their properties into the hands of people and institutions who are committed to maintaining decent affordable housing;
- Enact laws that stabilize rents and tenancies such as Rent Control and Just Cause Evictions; and
- Build, preserve, and lease up affordable housing. Chicago needs not hundreds but tens of thousands of affordable units.
These are some initial steps. Achieving just and equitable housing policies requires work and commitment to respect and honor the lives of all people by making housing a human right.