Today, mutual aid groups in Denver that usually work to support the already deeply in-need unhoused community are finding ourselves asking to collect items for infants as young as 20 days old… A new all-time low for Denver. Are we meant to wait around until we start hearing reports of dead infants in tents?!?
With migrant families not being included in the Mayor’s House 1000 plans, it seems he has turned his back on this particularly disadvantaged population is not (literally!!!) closing even more doors for them this week.
Currently, the time allowance for migrants to stay in a migrant shelter is 37 days for families and 14 days for individuals. This is kept track of via an online database which prevents them from seeking refuge at any of the other migrant shelter locations once their time is up. Many individuals find themselves being discharged far sooner for arbitrary reasons – for example, one woman with children was caught near hotel property holding up a sign asking for work opportunities to be able to provide for her family, and so she was kicked out before her time was up… We have never heard of such a thing happening at any of the general unhoused shelters!!! In fact, we know that holding up cardboard signs is somehow the only way that disabled unhoused individuals can hope to scrounge up enough money for critical matters, such as paying for a phone bill to be able to stay in touch with one’s case manager.
That brings up another difference – these migrant shelters do not provide any resources to their residents aside from food. Even the food is highly limited, with only 2 meals provided per day, and these meals tend to be highly lacking in nutritional value. Some children are able to receive a midday snack of bread and milk, but parents are complaining that this is not enough to sustain the healthy development of their children. Another arbitrary rule is the restriction of outside food – even if a family buys food with their own money – say, a pizza or sandwich – they must eat it outside or smuggle it indoors without staff knowing, given that staff will throw away the fresh food in a black trash bag right in front of them… These people are STARVING with young CHILDREN to feed, and we are limiting their ability to feed themselves?!?? They have claimed that this is only for perishable food, however one mother with a 10-month old infant told us that her entire box collected from a food bank – complete with perishable ingredients to create meals – was thrown out in its entirety by staff the day she tried to bring it inside.
We are witnessing the mass release of families from shelter into the cold streets this winter at the completion of their time. In some cases, they are offered bus tickets out of town, but no support otherwise. For individuals who, right from the start, chose a bus ticket instead of sheltering, they are told that they cannot receive shelter for even 1 night while they wait for their bus the following day… Meaning that they must survive the cold night without any protection and minimal belongings with their babies.
By FAR, the number one ask that we get from this community is work opportunities. They state that they are willing to do any type of employment, that they will make it work, and parents will figure ways out to have their children safely watched by either a partner or a friend while they work long hours. For those who have found work, they are often in unsafe conditions or cheated out of pay. One woman told us that her husband worked for 18 HOURS outside in the cold starting at 4am, only to be turned away at the end of the day without his pay. Who are they supposed to report these injustices to?!?!
Many of these individuals have gone through the initial steps of entry into the country by attempting to file for asylum, however, we have seen paperwork that details that they are unable to accept any kind of employment until their next immigration meeting… IN MARCH OF 2028!!!! HOW are they meant to survive for five years without employment?!??
Now, on November 6th, Denver is closing down one of its critically needed migrant shelter hotels – Comfort Inn on 58th – and either exiting the remaining people or transferring them to other hotels to finish out their time. They have told us that all current residents will be accounted for in this transition, however, we know that people are often kicked out before their already limited time allowance for the most absurd reasons. We cannot trust that these families will have continued support, and even if they do, these ridiculous circumstances make their safety and success a matter of miracles.
PLEASE contact us if you are looking to connect with a family and offer your support, if you have employment opportunities, if you can donate any supplies for children between the ages of 20 days up to teenhood, or any winter gear to help these families and individuals survive a winter that they’re experiencing for the first time in their lives… Denver is about to have an incredibly chilling winter, and it’s not just about the weather…
Watch these interviews and read the translations to hear their please for humanity firsthand… THANK YOU to volunteers Verena O’Malley and Cristy for reaching out and offering such timely translation!!!