To be a migrant in Denver is to struggle.
A Globeville resident reached out to the author of this story this week to share her experience of making friends with a migrant in her neighborhood staying at a hotel. “They were in our neighborhood looking to enroll the kids in school so the mother could go out and find work,” Hanna McEldufff explained in an email. “They only speak Spanish, so we have been trying to help make calls in English to try and secure some housing for them.”
McElduff said as she was out and about with the migrant, who she said is about 20 weeks pregnant with two children ages 5 and 7, she learned the shelters have difficult rules. “While we were out visiting agencies around town, the mother shared with me that there were 10 people total staying in her hotel room with only two beds, and one of the children in the room had recently been diagnosed with chickenpox. She also said that they were denied food a few times because they had received food from outside of the shelter, and even when they receive food from the shelter it was just a small amount of rice and some chicken.”
City public information officer Jon Ewing said in an email they “do not allow 10 people in a room. We do allow families of six with a cot for extra sleeping space. Otherwise, it’s max four individual adults to a room. We actually do room checks for the very reason you’re mentioning here, to make sure guests haven’t invited others to stay with them.”
Concerns about pests restrict food, clothing
As for why clothing and food may get tossed in the trash, “We’ve been gathering donations for months for migrant guests and do provide clothing,” Ewing said. “That said, we have to ensure that anyone bringing in donated clothes from outside the migrant shelter process is adhering to health and safety procedures. We can’t have bed bugs or anything like that. As for food, we provide meals within the shelter and absolutely allow a limited number of snacks and shelf-stable food items in rooms. However, the rooms don’t have mini fridges so you can’t have perishables in there. It’s another health and safety concern. Also, we have to do everything we can to avoid pests.”
Ewing said all guests are informed of the rules and why they exist. He said the city is simply trying to keep rooms clean and safe. In the meantime, social service agencies work hard to link the migrants to services. “From the moment a person arrives in our shelter system we encourage them to make a plan and work to connect them with long-term resources. I will tell you though that it is a challenge right now. Nonprofits are feeling the same strain we are.”
Homelessness after Nov. 6?
McElduff said the family and many others staying in the Globeville hotel will be kicked out Nov. 6 due to length-of-stay limits. They have no idea where they are going to go. “I think the housing vouchers are for three or four weeks,” McElduff said. “On top of that, it has been almost impossible to find them a place to live. None of the agencies in town help with asylum seekers, only people who have been granted legal asylee status are able to receive help from the non-profits and government agencies.
“She can't even get a court appointment until mid-November. Her only option is to find a private landlord, and all of them run credit checks which of course she doesn't have any in the US. It has been very frustrating. My roommates and I have been calling and visiting agencies for two weeks now and we've gotten nowhere.”
According to the city's online migrant dashboard, people seeking aslyum continue to pour in. On Wednesday, 77 migrants arrived. On Tuesday, 162 migrants rolled into Denver. The city is sheltering 2,050 migrants in non-city buildings. The city has served more than 26,000 migrants.