(ReclaimingAmerica.net) – Homeless camps are taking over one of America’s largest international airports – Chicago’s O’Hare, and its staff and passengers are increasingly complaining that their inhabitants follow and harass them.
The “dystopian” encampments right inside the airport terminals and homeless persons asleep in vestibules have been caught on “shocking” social media photos, CBS News revealed in a report cited by The New York Post.
“It’s out of control. None of us feel safe,” said Vonkisha Chatman, a Terminal 1 and 2 custodian.
She complained that the homeless inhabiting the airport “trash the bathrooms,” leave garbage behind, and harass the staff.
“They will come up behind you. This one man followed us last night,” said another airport worker, Catherine Thompson.
“From the time we get here until the time we leave in the morning, they will be here,” she added.
Thompson and Chatman have previously called the police, as instructed by their supervisors, but police officers have told them they could only intervene if the homeless had “touched” them “physically.”
“They just tell us to be careful because it’s out of their hands — like they can’t do anything,” Chatman explained.
Social media photos of the homeless living at Chicago’s airport are accompanied by calls upon the city’s Democrat Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, to tackle the problem.
“@chicagosmayor please clean up this city! This is the current state of O’hare airport, homeless everywhere, sleeping all over terminal 2 and getting in people’s faces yelling,” wrote one social media user.
“This picture of a homeless encampment was taken today at O’Hare @fly2ohare Terminal 1 baggage claim. Chicago needs better leadership,” posted another Twitter user.
Yet another complained she had “never seen such a homeless problem” in the “50 years I have lived in Cook Co.”
“It’s not even that cold out! Also, aggresively [sic] hit-up with ‘ya need a ride?’ in baggage. It was dystopian,” she wrote.
Jessica Dubuar from Haymarket Center, a nonprofit serving the homeless at the airport, said her organization “encountered 618 new homeless people” at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. That is a 53% increase compared to the 431 new ones in 2021.
The Chicago Department of Aviation and the Department of Family Support Services fund Haymarket Center.
“They’re full. The shelters are full. A lot of folks don’t end up at the airport because that’s their goal — that is the last option they have,” Dubuar explained when asked why the homeless are gathering at O’Hare.
A 2022 Chicago Coalition for the Homeless report said the city had 65,611 homeless residents in 2020.
The NYP points out that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development recently gave Chicago $60 million out of a $315 million package of grants to combat homelessness.
Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services said that homeless people often refuse immediate help.
“Sometimes, individuals experiencing homelessness do not accept services and outreach teams have to engage them many times before trust is established and the clients are ready to accept assistance,” the department said.