HUMBOLDT PARK — The city is preparing for what could be a "large influx" of Puerto Rican evacuees in the wake of Hurricane Maria by opening a welcome center in Humboldt Park.
The center will be in the Humboldt Park Field House, 1400 N. Sacramento Ave., according to 26th Ward Ald. Roberto Maldonado, who announced the news late Thursday in his newsletter.
At the center, evacuees will be able to find food, clothing and health care services, as well as information about housing and education, Maldonado said.
"After landing, this will be their first stop in Chicago," Maldonado said.
Maldonado said he's also continuing to work with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on making sure evacuees, particularly those holding Section 8 vouchers, are given priority for subsidized housing.
"In addition, Chicago families currently living in subsidized housing will be relieved to know they can house their family members in their homes without fear of violating their leases," Maldonado said.
It's unclear if the center has already opened. Details were scarce in the newsletter, and Maldonado couldn't be immediately reached for additional comment.
Earlier this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, flanked by Latino aldermen including Maldonado, said he would invite tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans to the city.
"This is not going to be a one-week, one-month or even a one-year effort," Emanuel said at the time. "It is going to to take a sustained effort from all of us."
As of Oct. 2, about 1,600 Puerto Ricans had already made their way to Chicago, according to Alicia Tate-Nadeau, executive director of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
The hurricane hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20.