Chicago YMCAs to shelter displaced, homeless individuals during COVID-19 outbreak

The YMCA of Metro Chicago is converting some of its locations into emergency shelters to house hundreds of displaced and homeless individuals who are staying in overcrowded shelters.

The goal is to provide proper social distancing for these individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. A YMCA spokesperson confirmed that the agreement applies only to YMCAs within the City of Chicago.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and YMCA leaders shared details of the partnership between the city and the YMCA on Monday. On a post on its website, the YMCA said it will shelter more than 400 displaced individuals.

The YMCA of Metro Chicago includes 17 locations throughout the city and suburbs, and serves more than 200,000 members. All facilities are currently closed to members. Suburban locations within the YMCA of Metro Chicago umbrella, such as Sage YMCA in Crystal Lake, are not included in the partnership.

“The Y is known for its dependability in times of crisis and we take our responsibility to the community very seriously,” said Richard Malone, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Chicago. “We’ve all heard repeatedly from health experts that social distancing is key to combating this crisis and, in order for it to work, we need to leave no stone unturned. Every pocket of society needs to be practicing social distancing and the Y is helping to ensure this.”

Malone also emailed a statement to members of the YMCA of Metro Chicago, saying that membership fees have currently been suspended while services are unavailable.

The City of Chicago and its human services partners will manage and staff the shelters and provide food, bedding and hygiene kits. The YMCA is providing facility management, telecommunications, utilities and storage space. They will work together to provide security and housekeeping services. The Chicago Department of Public Health will facilitate any transfers of individuals to quarantine, if needed.

The YMCA asked that individuals consider donating to the cause at ymcachicago.org/covidrelief.

“Like so many Chicago institutions, nonprofits like the YMCA face an uncertain future,” Malone said. “But that concern is secondary to the health and safety of Chicago’s citizens – especially the most vulnerable in our community.”