As migrant populations increase and change, BUILD pivots to cope 

An influx of new arrivals in Chicago has driven BUILD Chicago to aid dozens more asylum-seekers sheltered at local police stations.  

Last week, around 45 asylum-seekers, mostly single men, used BUILD’s showers, an increase from a couple of days before. By this week, the number of asylum-seekers sheltered at the station doubled. On average, BUILD serves groups of 15 to 20 asylum-seekers sheltered at the police station at the intersection of North Central and West Grand Avenues.  

Sudden changes in the number of asylum-seekers at police stations have been the norm for the past few months. From one day to another, it is common for volunteers and nonprofit representatives to find new asylum-seekers who just arrived at a police station. Often, the newly arrived individuals or families do not have any personal items or clothes beyond what they’re wearing or carrying in a small bag. They also do not have appropriate clothes for the upcoming winter season.  

Also, most of the migrants sheltered in the 25th District are now single men. In earlier months, families sheltered there, but now they are relocated to other shelters, volunteers said. The station is one of four police locations citywide serving people with sex offenses who must register with the Chicago police. 

When possible, BUILD provides free clothes for asylum-seekers who visit the nonprofit’s facilities. It coordinates transportation from the police station to their Austin campus twice a week, providing free access to the shower rooms and laundry facilities, although laundry capacity is limited. It also provides food and coffee if available.  

Like many local volunteer response groups that assist asylum-seekers, BUILD is juggling the influx of arrivals with limited support from city agencies. Most of the items provided to migrants have been collected by staff or purchased by the nonprofit, which considers migrant support as an extension of its violence prevention work.   

As more asylum-seekers are expected to arrive, unprepared for Chicago’s winter, BUILD now accepts in-kind and financial donations to support migrants. They also need items for its new population. 

The items needed include: 

  • Men’s clothes: winter coats and jackets sizes small through extra-large, underwear, socks and winter clothes sizes small through large. Items must be new.  
  • Women and children’s clothes: winter coats, jackets, winter clothes, underwear and socks, all sizes. Items must be new.   
  • Meal donations: one-time or recurring catering or meal donations for groups of at least 15 people.   

The Austin-based violence prevention and youth development nonprofit started supporting local volunteer groups back in May. In the summer, access was restricted so it would not interfere with BUILD’s summer programs.  

To make a financial donation, visit BUILD’s website. When making a donation, indicate it is for migrant support.  

In-kind donations can be dropped off at the front desk of BUILD’s campus at 5100 W. Harrison St. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Those who wish to make meal donations can contact Rosa Rios or Emmayoli Silva at and  

Read the story from Austin Weekly News by clicking here.

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