Images of homeless seeking refuge at O’Hare International Airport have sparked a renewed discourse online.
On Wednesday, “O’Hare Airport,” began trending on Twitter due to images shared by recent travelers.
One Twitter user posted an image of what appeared to be a cluster of seven homeless people who had sprawled out near Terminal 1 baggage claim, writing “Chicago needs better leadership.”
Another tweet from earlier this month captured several images of homeless sleeping in Terminal 2.
“Please clean up this city!” the user tweeted at Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “This is the current state of O’hare airport, homeless everywhere, sleeping all over terminal 2 and getting in peoples faces yelling. This is the first impression people get when they land in this city.”
Another user chimed in, saying “I flew back to O’Hare, Terminal 3, last week. I had never seen such a homeless problem, in baggage, in the 50 years I have lived in Cook Co. It’s not even that cold out! Also, aggresively hit-up with ‘ya need a ride?’ in baggage. It was dystopian.”
Others came to the defense of the homeless, saying “They’re human beings who need help, not a mess that needs cleaning up.”
“Don’t hate on the homeless, hate on the government that REFUSES to address this issue!” another said.
Vonkisha Chatman, an overnight custodian at the airport, described the situation as “out of control,” to CBS News earlier this month. “None of us feel safe,” she said.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 15, 2023
“Homeless encampments have sprung up inside crime-riddled Chicago's O'Hare International Airport terminal leaving some concerned for their safety as images of people sleeping in filthy makeshift shelters have emerged.” https://t.co/Puhcgmq6oq
— Ford O'Connell (@FordOConnell) February 16, 2023
The number of homeless people is increasing every year, says Jessica Dubuar of Haymarket Center, which serves Chicago’s homeless by offering aid for substance use disorders.
Haymarket reported 618 new homeless people at O’Hare in 2022 – up 53% from 2021, when they saw 431.
When asked why people were sleeping at O’Hare instead of shelters across the city, Dubuar responded, “They’re full. The shelters are full.”
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