DENVER — The influx of migrants in Denver does not appear to be slowing down. Now, the city's housing and migrant crisis are colliding, causing dozens of families to seek shelter underneath a bridge.
Mari Urbane said she has been living in a tent for the past few days with her two small children, ages 4 and 9.
"There's a lot of people, a lot," Urbane said in Spanish.
The growing crisis has become a call to action for community members, including Lisa Wimberger.
"These are babies. These are sick children," said Wimberger. "I'm horrified."
Wimberger said she has been stepping up to help families get into housing.
"The system is overwhelmed. We can't get people off the streets fast enough. I've placed nine people since Sunday in warm homes for the winter. I'm looking at two apartments today for two families of three with infants," said Wimberger.
She said she's been able to help pay for the expenses through a GoFundMe online fundraiser she started to help the families.
"Everyone deserves a home, including our residents unhoused in Denver. But these people don't speak the language. These people have infants with no formula and no diapers and no clothes. They're not prepared for winter," saod Wimberger. "As I've been talking to them over the weeks, they're professionals. They're family, people. All they want to do is work and take care of each other."
When asked what her biggest message was, Urbane said, "That we're human — we're human and we need help."
A claim was made that Urbane and her children were kicked out of the Radisson Hotel shelter. In a statement, a Denver Human Services spokesperson denied that claim.
"While the Radisson is currently in use as one of the City and County of Denver’s migrant shelters, it will soon transition to a House1000 site.
Because we understand that some parents have formed connections and enrolled their children in nearby schools, we provided families with the option of either working with our nonprofit partners to form a long-term plan to stay in the area or gave them the option of simply transferring to another shelter in Denver. No family was discharged out of the Radisson migrant shelter because of this move and we continue to encourage families to come inside and out of the cold."
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
Those items can be dropped off at the following locations:
- Community Ministry (Children's clothing only), located at 1755 S Zuni Street in Denver, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Thursday
- Para Ti Mujer, located at 150 Sheridan Boulevard Suite 200 in Lakewood, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday or Friday
- Colorado Changemakers Collective, located at 12075 East 45th Avenue in Denver, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday
Please call 720-385-9173 before dropping off donations.
The city is also conducting a holiday gift drive for migrant children. Officials are collecting toys, clothes and school supplies through Dec. 18. Gifts should be easily transportable and cost no more than $25, according to city. You can learn more through this link.
If you want to donate money, you can donate to the Newcomers Fund.