Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter at St. Edmund Site

The Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter (OPFTS), an initiative from the Village of Oak Park Communities, provides safe, temporary housing to migrant families that were living at The Carleton Hotel and the West Cook YMCA in February 2024. These families resides in converted classroom spaces in the St. Edmund School Building beginning February 26 through June 30, 2024. They benefit from support that includes English language instruction, legal help to apply for work permits, and assistance to transition to permanent housing.

The OPFTS occupies space near the Migrant Ministry quarters, and will initially focus on serving about 80 people, principally migrant children enrolled in Oak Park schools and their families.

The OPFTS is staffed by professional workers paid by state funds awarded to the Village of Oak Park as well as volunteers. Jack Crowe is serving as volunteer Executive Director of OPFTS. This ministry outreach is in need of more volunteers.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact Jack Crowe at jackcrowe117@gmail.com or 630-248-9376.

Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter – Latest Update

March 27, 2024

We expect that the Oak Park Transitional Shelter at St. Edmund’s will close on approximately April 3, 2024 – This is sooner than expected and is due to the excellent work of the Community of Congregations and its Resettlement Task Force placing our Guests in next step housing.

The Shelter has been a model public private partnership with the Village of Oak Park and State of Illinois, and also a joint work of the Oak Park faith communities.

Finally, we have been blessed with an excellent temporary staff that has worked at the Shelter 24/7 since it opened. Many staff members hail from Latin America and the Caribbean. They are shown here (picture above) at a recent de-escalation training on site.

CBS News on our Migrant Ministry and Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter

February 20, 2024

Our Migrant Ministry and Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter at St. Edmund Center (former St. Edmund School) were featured on CBS News Chicago on Tuesday, February 20 – Suburban Chicago Volunteers aim to open another Shelter for Migrant Families


Latest Update on Transitional Housing for Asylum Seekers

February 16, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

What follows is an update on the transitional housing for asylum seekers at the St. Edmund School building. The update is provided by Jack Crowe, parishioner and Board Member for the Oak Park Family Transition Center. As we learn more about the preparation work and operations of the shelter, we will be sure to share it with you. Thank you for your unwavering support as we continue to help those who need us.

Fr. Carl Morello
St. Catherine of Siena – St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish
Ascension and St. Edmund Parish

P.S. – Also, CLICK HERE to see an article from the Wednesday Journal on the shelter – OP selects St. Edmund School as asylum-seekers’ shelter – Wednesday Journal (oakpark.com)

Important Update on the Transitional Shelter for Asylum Seekers

You have likely heard the exciting news that last night the Village of Oak Park agreed to open a transitional shelter at the St. Edmund School building for approximately 100 newly arrived asylum seekers beginning around March 1 until June 30, 2024. The shelter’s residents will be families, approximately 60 adults and 40 children, currently staying at the West Suburban YMCA and The Carlton Hotel.

The shelter will be operated for the Village of Oak Park by the Oak Park Family Transitional Center. This is an entity operated by West Side Service Connector, an Illinois not-for-profit and 501c3 created for service outreach in response to the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Renew My Church Initiative for the Oak Park Catholic Parishes. Jack Crowe will be the unpaid Executive Director of the Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter. The board members are local parishioners Kenna MacKinnon, Dan Doody and Jack Crowe. The Archdiocese of Chicago, as landlord, required that a separate corporate entity such as this operate the shelter.

The shelter will reside in the same building with the Migrant Ministry which has been distributing clothing as well as offering meals, English classes, medical services, and pastoral care. This important volunteer-driven ministry also aids in finding permanent housing. The Migrant Ministry and the new shelter will have opportunities to collaborate as we move forward.

Finally, the West Side Service Connector has a separate business operation called The Neighborhood Bridge that is focused on connecting residents of the West Side to high quality social service providers in Oak Park and Austin with an initial focus on serving local school children and their families. Its work is separate from the Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter and the Migrant Ministry.

We will keep you updated as we move along. Thank you for your ongoing support as we provide assistance to this humanitarian crisis.

Parish Communication Regarding Temporary Shelter for Asylum Seekers

February 3, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

On Friday, February 2, 2024, the Village of Oak Park was notified that it was awarded $1.9 million in funding from the Supporting Municipalities for Asylum Seeker Services. Approximately $1.24 million of those funds would be used specifically to operate a temporary shelter in the St. Edmund School building located at 200 South Oak Park Avenue. The funding will cover all costs to operate the shelter which, if the lease is approved by the AOC, would begin on March 1 and extend for four months. A newly-formed not-for-profit that was part of the RMC initiative is overseeing this project. The temporary shelter will be used to provide housing for some of the asylum seekers, mostly families and women with children, currently staying at the Carlton Hotel and the West Suburban YMCA as housing ends on February 29.

The St. Edmund School building is also the home of the Migrant Ministry, a collaboration of the Oak Park Catholic Parishes and operated by volunteers from all faiths. The Migrant Ministry, led by parishioners Celine and Don Woznica along with a dedicated leadership team, has supported thousands of migrants over the last six months with clothing, English classes, long-term housing, legal assistance, access to health care, food, and pastoral services. The Migrant Ministry will continue to operate out of the school building and will share the space.

While many details remain to determined, we realize that without our support, the asylum seekers will be forced to return to shelters in the city. Fr. Carl Morello, Pastor of the Oak Park Catholic Parishes, said, “Our hearts are with the newly-arrived asylum seekers including the many children now attending school in Oak Park who have been facing uncertainty about their housing. While we still have lots of work to do to make a shelter a reality, I trust in the good work of the many volunteers and other supporters who are welcoming these good people in need.”

Parishioner, Jack Crowe, has been working behind the scenes with a team of volunteers putting together a plan for a transitional shelter to address this emergency. He said, “with this news, our not-for-profit will begin working on the next steps, the first of which is negotiating a lease with the Archdiocese of Chicago which owns the property. We are moving forward on our plan with urgency to meet the immediate needs of the many asylum seeking families. With this funding, we believe we can make progress on addressing their top needs: jobs, more permanent housing and legal assistance.”

As this important outreach endeavor moves along, regular updates will be shared as progress is made.

Fr. Carl Morello
St. Catherine of Siena – St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish
Ascension and St. Edmund Parish