Hancock asks Catholic Church to help shelter migrants arriving in Denver

The Denver mayor wrote a letter to Denver’s Archbishop asking for space to shelter another 100 people.
2 min. read
Cots set up in an emergency shelter for people arriving from the southern U.S. border, set up at a Denver rec center. Dec. 13, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

As hundreds of migrants continue to land in Denver from Venezuela, central and south America, Mayor Michael Hancock has asked the Catholic Church for help sheltering them.

Currently, the city has shifted two recreation centers into temporary shelters and one into a welcome center. The city has also paid for hotel rooms for families with children. They've also asked other relief organizations to help house people. Between 1,500 to 1,600 people a night are staying in these various temporary facilities, according to Denver County officials.

Now, Hancock is seeking relief from the Catholic church.

In a Dec. 30 letter, Hancock asked Denver's Archbishop Samuel Aquila for space at the now-vacant Little Sisters of the Poor on West 29th Avenue. The mayor said the facility could accommodate another 100 people comfortably.

"The lack of an adequate government response is what leads me to renew a call I made to communities of faith and other non-governmental charities to help address dire human needs and a steady migration of people to our city," Hancock wrote. "If there are additional ways the Archdiocese and Holy Catholic community may want to engage with the city in addressing this challenge, we would be ever grateful."

City officials have spent more than $1.1 million so far to house, shelter and care for the more than 3,000 migrants who have arrived since Dec. 9. They said over the weekend they expect that figure to rise to $3 million in the next couple of months.

Currently, that cash is coming from the city's general fund and various budgets that had remaining dollars to spend as Denver officials closed out the budget year. The money is paying for food, hotel rooms, protective gear, cleaning supplies, staffing, cots, mats, blankets and hygiene supply kits, officials said Sunday.

They are seeking federal reimbursements and were just granted a $1.5 million grant from the state Department of Local Affairs.

"No matter one's opinion about immigration policy or politics, I trust you will agree that the immediate need for keeping people sheltered from frigid cold temperatures and adequately fed and clothed is beyond dispute," Hancock wrote to the archbishop. "Unfortunately, we've not yet seen an outpouring of support from other local governments to meet this temporary crisis."

There was no immediate comment from the archdiocese on Sunday.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that two rec centers are being used as shelters.

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