Several hundred migrants to be housed at former Saint Bartholomew School and parish convent on Northwest Side
by BRIAN NADIG
Plans are being made to temporarily house between 300 to 350 migrants next year at the former Saint Bartholomew School, 4910 W. Addison St., and the nearby parish convent, 4933 W. Patterson Ave.
The school, which consisted of two separate buildings, closed earlier this year. The city’s plan reportedly does not include use of the school building (known by many as “the junior high”) at 4941 W. Patterson Ave., only the structure along Addison in addition to the former convent.
The Portage Park parish merged in 2021 with the Saint Pascal and Our Lady of Victory parishes to form the new Our Lady of the Rosary Parish. The Saint Bartholomew Church, 3601 N. Lavergne Ave., and Saint Pascal Church, 3935 N. Melvina Ave., remain open, while the Our Lady of Victory Church, 5212 W. Agatite Ave., closed in late 2021.
The city would lease the property from the Archdiocese of Chicago, as part of its efforts to get migrants out of police station lobbies and into more suitable living spaces. Nearly all migrants were moved out of lobbies in the 16th (Jefferson Park) and 17th (Albany Park) district police stations this week.
The housing at Saint Bartholomew reportedly would be operated in a fashion similar as to how migrants were housed last summer at Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett Ave., with curfews and other rules. City officials have said that migrants will be given 60 days to make other living arrangements before they would be asked to leave a temporary shelter.
Alderwoman Ruth Cruz (30th) said that she has been pro-active in trying to address potential concerns that residents may have about the plan.
Cruz said that she talked with 16th District commander Heather Daniel and that the commander said the district already had experience dealing with migrant housing at Wright. She said the commander told her that safety for the neighborhood and migrants should not to be a problem.
Cruz said that she has also inquired out about medical and other resources from the county for the migrants and talked to the Chicago Public Schools, which she said expressed confidence migrant children could be brought into area schools without negatively impacting resources for existing students.
Cruz plans to distribute fliers explaining the housing plan to area homes and hold an informational session for residents. The alderwoman said that plans for St. Bart’s are not part of Mayor Johnson’s “Unity Initiative.” Under that program, the city reportedly will partner with 17 churches to take in the migrants through the use of private donor funds.
Cruz said that she understands that not all residents will be on board with this housing plan, but “we want to make sure everyone is informed. … There’s some mixed feelings out there.”
Cruz added, “This is not an encampment.” The city is utilizing “empty buildings” so that migrants do not have to sleep in police station lobbies, she said.
The location of other temporary housing centers on the Northwest Side include a former military training center at 3034 W. Foster Ave. and North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski Road.
The Saint Bartholomew School opened in 1921. The parish, which was founded in 1917, is believed to have been one of the first on the Northwest Side to hold Mass in Spanish and it continues to do so today.