DENVER – Denver could soon be at risk of not being able to safely welcome hundreds of migrants arriving to the Mile High City from the southern border as staffing across shelters grows thin, Mayor Mike Johnston warned Tuesday, as he made an offer to bilingual speakers looking to make a little extra cash this holiday season.
Figures from the city show more than 2,600 people from Central and South America are being sheltered by the city as of Monday, with hundreds more expected to arrive over the next couple of weeks.
While Denver does have shelter facilities open to welcome migrants – some of whom are arriving in the dead cold of night – it’s staffing where the city is running into trouble, according to the mayor, who spoke alongside the executive director of the Department of Health and Humans Services outside the City and County building late Tuesday morning.
“We need the staff to help lead these shelter sites,” Johnston said, as he announced the city was looking to hire bilingual speakers to help connect migrants to city services. “We need the people of Denver to be able to step up and actually help us make sure the city remains welcoming through the holidays. This is our moment for Denver to help.”
The need for more people is such that the city is looking to hire bilingual speakers who can communicate in Spanish as soon as this Friday to fill daytime, nighttime, as well as part-time and full-time positions. Those who apply will get paid between $25 and $32 an hour, the mayor said.
“The one thing that I can in this position is that this work cannot be done alone. This is why we need your help,” said Anne-Marie Braga, the executive director of the city’s Department of Health and Human Services.
How do I apply?
Denverites and other Coloradans from around the metro interested in helping out and getting paid for doing so will need to pre-register for one of two sessions (8 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) at Denver.gov before heading out to a “rapid, onboarding” event on the fourth floor of the Wellington Webb building, located at 201 W. Colfax Ave., this Friday, Dec. 8.
You’re asked to bring original copies of your I-9 documents. Photo or digital copies of said documents will not be accepted.
During the onboarding session, you can expect to complete the interview process, if needed. If you’re offered a position, you’ll be able to complete hiring paperwork, onboarding and orientation so you can begin working as quickly as possible, Braga said.
"The right, humanitarian thing to do"
Johnston said that the city currently has about 200 employees working to help support arriving migrants, but it needs about 150 more as the city has held on to more families than it has resources for so they won’t be abandoned out in the cold.
“We think that’s also the right, humanitarian thing to do," Johnston said. "So these next cohort of workers to come in and help us are the ones that are making sure we are supporting those most in need in the times of the holidays."
The mayor also called on people to spread the word with friends and family.
“We find that in moments of crisis, the most powerful thing you can do is get the word out,” Johnston said. “It's a great wage for folks that want to be able to do the work, and it both makes it a great city and a good city if you can make sure that we're both thriving and supporting people in need.”
Here's how you can help refugees and immigrants coming to Denver
If you’d like to help as the city responds to this migrant crisis, you can do so with donations — either material or monetary. If opting for the former, the city is asking for the following items:
- Socks (new/unopened only)
- Bras - small/medium/large
- Women’s clothing - small/medium/large
- Men’s clothing - small/medium
- Winter hats - gender neutral and kids/one size fits all
- Winter gloves - men's, women's and kids/small and medium sizes
- Scarves - various sizes
- Closed toed or winter shoes for children
- Closed toed or winter shoes for women sizes 4, 5, 6 and 7
Those items can be dropped off at the following locations:
1755 S. Zuni St. Denver, CO 80223
Monday - Thursday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Para Ti Mujer
150 Sheridan Blvd. Suite 200 Lakewood, CO 8O226
Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Colorado Changemakers Collective
12075 E. 45th Ave. Denver, CO 80239
Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Before heading out the door though, please call ahead to ask about any specific instructions for drop-off.
If you want to donate your time, you can donate money to the Newcomers Fund.
The city is also collecting toys for migrant children during the holiday season
On Monday, city officials also announced they were collecting gifts for children staying in migrant shelter facilities through Dec. 18. All gifts should be new, unwrapped and cost no more than $25. Items can be dropped off at either of two Denver Workforce Centers during the hours below:
Arie P. Taylor Municipal Building
4685 Peoria St., Suite 251, 80239
Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building
201 W. Colfax Ave., 80202
Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
You can find more information on gifts, along with how to purchase through Amazon, at denvergov.org/migrantsupport.
As of Monday, Denver has supported 29,564 migrants from the southern border (8,300 of which have been bused from Texas, according to a social media post from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott) at a cost of more than $33 million.